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Copy ^ 

Chp»r^M, I'm, iu ff. Bernard Bham 



S SB) 5 nrvux- 

Copy ^ 

Copyright, 1907, by G. Bernard SfyoM 




Before dealing with the deeper aspects of Major Bar- 
bara^ let me^ for the credit of English literature^ make 
a protest against an unpatriotic habit into which many 
of my critics have fallen. Whenever my view strikes 
them as being at all outside the range of^ say^ an ordi- 
nary suburban churchwarden^ they conclude that I am 
echoing Schopenhauer^ Nietzsche^ Ibsen^ Strindberg^ 
Tolstoy^ or some other heresiarch in northern or eastern 

I confess there is something flattering in this simple 
faith in my accomplishment as a linguist and my erudi- 
tion as a philosopher. But I cannot tolerate the as- 
sumption that life and literature is so poor in these 
islands that we must go abroad for all dramatic material 
that is not common and all ideas that are not super- 
ficial. I therefore venture to put my critics in posses- 
sion of certain facts concerning my contact with modem 

About half a century ago^ an Irish novelist^ Charles 
Lever, wrote a story entiUed A Day's Ride: A Life's 
Romance. It was published by Charles Dickens in 
Household Words^ and proved so strange to the public 
taste that Dickens pressed Lever to make short work of 
it. I read scraps of this novel when I was a child; 
and it made an endurrag impression on me. The hero 
was a very romantic hero, trying to live bravely, chival- 
roasly> and powerfully by dint of mere romance-fed 


6 Major Barbara 

imagination^ without courage^ without means^ without 
knowledge^ without skilly without anything real except 
his bodily appetites. Even in my childhood I found 
in this poor devil's unsuccessful encounters with the 
facts of life^ a poignant quality that romantic fiction 
lacked. The book^ in spite of its first failure^ is not 
dead: I saw its tide the other day in the catalogue of 

Now why is it that when I also deal in the tragi- 
comic irony of the conflict between real life and Uie 
romantic imagination^ no critic ever affiliates me to my 
countryman and immediate forerunner^ Charles Lever, 
whilst they confidently derive me from a Norwegian 
author of whose language I do not know three words, 
and of whom I knew nothing until years after the 
Shavian Anschauung was already unequivocally declared 
in books full of what came, ten years later, to be per- 
functorily labelled Ibsenism. I was not Ibsenist even 
at second hand; for Lever, though he may have read 
Henri Beyle, alias Stendhal, certainly never read Ibsen. 
Of the books that made Lever popular, such as Charles 
O'Malley and Harry Lorrequer, I know nothing but the 
names tuid some of the illustrations. But the story of 
the day's ride and life's romance of Potts (claiming 
alliance with Pozzo di Borgo) caught me and fascinated 
me as something strange and significant, though I al- 
ready knew all about Alnaschar and Don Quixote and 
Simon Tappertit and many another romantic hero 
mocked by reality. From the plays of Aristophanes to 
the tales of Stevenson that mockery has been made 
familiar to all who are properly saturated with letters. 

Where, then, was the novelty in Lever's tale? Partly, 
I think, in a new seriousness in dealing with Potts's 
disease. Formerly, the contrast between madness and 
sanity was deemed comic: Hogarth shews us how fash- 
ionable people went in parties to Bedlam to laugh at the 
lunatics. I myself have had a village idiot exhibited to 

First Aid to Critics 

me as sometfung irresistibly funny. On the stage the 
madman was once a regular comic figure: that was how 
Hamlet got his opportunity before Shakespear touched, 
him. The originality of Shakespear's version lay in his' 
taking the lunatic sympathetically and seriously^ and 
thereby making an advance towards the eastern con- 
sciousness of the fact that lunacy may be inspiration in 
disguise^ since a man who has more brains than his fel- 
lows necessarily appears as mad to them as one who 
has less. But Shakespear did not do for Pistol and 
Parolles what he did for Hamlet. The particular sort 
of madman they represented^ the romantic make-be- 
liever^ lay outside the pale of sympathy in literature: 
he was pitilessly despised and ridiculed here as he was 
in the east under the name of Alnaschar^ and was doomed 
to be, centuries later^ under the name of Simon Tapper- 
tit. When Cervantes relented over Don Quixote^ and 
Dickens relented over Pickwick, they did not become 
impartial: they simply changed sides, and became 
friends and apologists where they had formerly been 

In Lever's story there is a real change of attitude. 
There is no relenting towards Potts: he never gains our 
affections like Don Quixote and Pickwick: he has not 
even the infatuate courage of Tappertit. But we dare 
not laugh at him, because, somehow, we recognize our- 
selves in Potts. We may, some of us, have enough nerve, 
enough muscle, enough luck, enough tact or skill or 
address or knowledge to carry things off better than he 
did; to impose on tiie people who saw through him; to 
fascinate Katinka (who cut Potts so ruthlessly at the 
end of the story) ; but for all that, we know that Potts 
plays an enormous part in ourselves and in the world, 
and that the social problem is not a problem of story- 
book heroes of the older pattern, but a problem of 
Pottses, and of how to make men of them. To fall 
back on my old phrase, we have the feeling — one that 

8 Major Barbara 

Alnaschar, Pistol^ Parolles^ and Tappertit never gave 
TI8 — ^that Potts is a piece of really scientific natural his- 
tory as distinguished from comic story telling. His 
autiior is not throwing a stone at a creature of another 
and inferior order^ but making a confession^ with the 
effect that the stone hits everybody full in the conscience 
and causes their self-esteem to smart very sorely. Hence 
the failure of Lever's book to please the readers of 
Household Words. That pain in the self-esteem nowa- 
days causes critics to raise a cry of Ibsenism. I there- 
fore assure them that the sensation first came to me 
from Lever and may have come to him from Beyle, or 
at least out of the Stendhalian atmosphere. I exclude 
the hypothesis of complete originality on Lever's part, 
because a man can no more be completely original in 
that sense than a tree can grow out of air. 

Another mistake as to my literary ancestry is made 
whenever I violate the romantic convention that all 
women are angels when they are not devils; that they 
are better looking than men; that their part in courtship 
is entirely passive; and that the human female form is 
the most beautiful object in nature. Schopenhauer 
wrote a splenetic essay which, as it is neither polite nor 
profound, was probably intended to knock this nonsense 
violently on the head. A sentence denouncing the idol- 
ized form as ugly has been largely quoted. The English 
critics have read that sentence; and I must here affirm, 
with as much gentleness as the implication will bear, 
that it has yet to be proved that they have dipped any 
deeper. At all events, whenever an English playwright 
represents a young and marriageable woman as being 
an3ihing but a romantic heroine, he is disposed of with- 
out furtiier thought as an echo of Schopenhauer. My 
own case is a specially hard one, because, when I implore 
the critics who are obsessed with the Schopenhaurian 
formula to remember that playwrights, like sculptors, 
study their figures from life, and not from philosophic 

First Aid to Critics 9 

essays, they reply passionately that I am not a play- 
wright and that my stage figures do not live. But even 
so^ I may and do ask them why^ if they must give the 
credit of my plays to a philosopher^ they do not give 
it to an English philosopher? Long before I ever read 
a word by Schopenhauer^ or even knew whether he 
was a philosopher or a chemist^ the Socialist revival of 
the eighteen-eighties brought me into contact^ both lit- 
erary and personal^ with Mr. Ernest Belfort Bax, an 
English Socialist and philosophic essayist^ whose 
handling of modem feminism would provoke romantic 
protests from Schopenhauer himself^ or even Strind- 
berg. At a matter of fact I hardly noticed Schopen- 
hauer's disparagements of women when they came under 
my notice later on^ so thoroughly had Mr. Baz familiar- 
ized me with the homoist attitude^ and forced me to 
recognize the extent to which public opinion^ and conse- 
quently legislation and jurisprudence^ is corrupted by 
feminist sentiment. 

But Mr. Bax's essays were not confined to the Fem- 
inist question. He was a ruthless critic of current 
morality. Other writers have gained sympathy for 
dramatic criminals by eliciting the alleged ** soul of 
goodness in things evil"; but Mr. Bax would propound 
some quite undramatic and apparently shabby violation 
of our commercial law and morality^ and not merely 
defend it with the most disconcerting ingenuity, but 
actually prove it to be a positive duly that nothing but 
the certainty of police persecution should prevent every 
right-minded man from at once doing on principle. The 
Socialists were naturally shocked^ being for the most 
part morbidly moral people; but at all events they were 
saved later on from the delusion that nobody but 
Nietzsche had ever challenged our mercanto-Christian 
morality. I first heard the name of Nietzsche from a 
German mathematician^ Miss Borchardt^ who had read 
my Quintessence of Ibsenism^ and told me that she saw 

10 Major Barbara 

what I had been reading: namely^ Nietzsche's Jenseits 
Ton Gut und Bose. Which I protest I had never seen, 
and could not have read with anj comfort^ for want of 
the necessary German, if I had seen it. 

Nietzsche, like Schopenhauer, is the victim in 'Eng- 
land of a single much quoted sentence containing the 
phrase "big blonde beast." On the strength of this 
alliteration it is assumed that Nietzsche gained his Euro- 
pean reputation by a senseless glorification of selfish 
bullying as the rtde of life, just as it is assumed, on 
the strength of the single word Superman (Ubermensch) 
borrowed by me from Nietzsche, that I look for the 
salvation of society to the despotism of a single Napo- 
leonic Superman, in spite of my careful demonstration 
of the folly of that outworn infatuation. But even the 
less recklessly superficial critics seem to believe that 
the modem objection to Christianity as a pernicious 
slave-morality was first put forward by Nietzsche. It 
was familiar to me before I ever heard of Nietzsche. 
The late Captain Wilson, author of several queer 
pamphlets, propagandist of a metaphysical system called 
Comprehensionism, and inventor of the term " Cross- 
tianity " to distinguish the retrograde element in Chris- 
tendom, was wont thirty years ago, in the discussions of 
the Dialectical Society, to protest earnestly against the 
beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount as excuses for 
cowardice and servility, as destructive of our will, and 
consequently of our honor and manhood. Now it is 
true that Captain Wilson's moral criticism of Chris- 
tianity was not a historical theory of it, like Nietzsche's ; 
but this objection cannot be made to Mr. Stuart-Glen- 
nie, the successor of Buckle as a philosophic historian, 
who has devoted his life to the elaboration and propaga- 
tion of his theory that Christianity is part of an epoch 
(or rather an aberration, since it began as recently as 
6000 B.C. and is already collapsing) produced by the 
necessity in which the numerically inferior white races 

First Aid to Critics 11 

found ihemselyes to impose their domination on the 
colored races by priestcraft^ making a virtue and a popu- 
lar religion of drudgery and submissiveness in this world 
not only as a means of achieving saintliness of character 
but of securing a reward in heaven. Here you have the 
slave-morality view formulated by a Scotch philosopher 
long before English writers began chattering about 

As Mr. Stuart-Glennie traced the evolution of society 
to the conflict of races^ his theory made some sensation 
among Socialists — that is^ among the only people who 
were seriously thinking about historical evolution at all 
— ^by its collision with the class-conflict theory of Karl 
Marx. Nietzsche^ as I gather^ regarded the slave- 
morality as having been invented and imposed on the 
world by slaves making a virtue of necessity and a re-* 
ligion of their servitude. Mr. Stuart-Glennie regards 
the slave-morality as an invention of the superior white 
race to subjugate the minds of the inferior races whom 
they wished to exploit, and who would have destroyed 
them by force of numbers if their minds had not been 
subjugated. As this process is in operation still, and 
can be studied at first hand not only in our Church 
schools and in the struggle between our modem pro- 
prietary classes and the proletariat^ but in the part 
played by Christian missionaries in reconciling the black 
races of Africa to their subjugation by European Cap- 
italism^ we can judge for ourselves whether the in- 
itiative came from above or below. My object here is 
not to argue the historical pointy but simply to make our 
theatre critics ashamed of their habit of treating Britain 
as an intellectual void, and assuming that every phil- 
osophical idea, every historic theory, every criticism of 
our moral, religious and juridical institutions, must 
necessarily be either imported from abroad, or else a 
fantastic sally (in rather questionable taste) totally un- 
related to the existing body of thought. I urge them 

12 Major Barbara 

to remember that this body of thought is the slowest of 
growths and the rarest of blossomings^ and that if there 
is such a thing on the philosophic plane as a matter of 
course^ it is that no individual can make more than a 
minute contribution to it. In fact^ their conception of 
clever persons parthenogenetically bringing forth com- 
plete original cosmogonies by dint of sheer " brilliancy " 
is part of that ignorant credulity which is the despair 
of the honest philosopher^ and the opportunity of the 
religious impostor. 

The Gospel of St. Andrew Undershaft. 

^ It is this credulity that drives me to help my critics 
out with Major Barbara by telling them what to say 
about it. In the millionaire Undershaft I have repre- 
I , sented a man who has become intellectually and spirit- 
ually as well as practically conscious of the irresistible 
natural truth which we all abhor and repudiate: to wit, 
that the greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is 
poverty, and that our first duty — ^a duty to which every 
other consideration should be sacrificed — ^is not to be 
poor. " Poor but honest/* " the respectable poor," and 
such phrases are as intolerable and as immoral as 
) " drunken but amiable," " fraudulent but a good aft^r- 
\ dinner speaker," " splendidly criminal," or the like. CSe- 
1 curity, the chief pretence of civilization, cannot exist 
\ where the worst of dangers, the danger of poverty, 
I hangs over everyone's head, and where the alleged pro- 
I tection of our persons from violence is only an accidental 
j result of the existence of a police force whose real busi- 
! ness is to force the poor man to see his children starve 
whilst idle people overfeed pet dogs with the money 
that might feed and clothe them. 
i It is exceedingly difficult to make people realize that 
an evil is an evil. For instance, we seize a man and 
deliberately do him a malicious injiu*y: say, imprison 

First Aid to Critics 13 

him for years. One would not suppose that it needed 
any exceptional clearness of wit to recognize in this an 
act of diabolical cruelty. But in England such a recog^ 
-nition provokes a stare of surprise^ followed by an ex- 
planation that the outrage is punishment or justice or 
something else that is all rights or perhaps by a heated 
attempt to argue that we should all be robbed and mur- 
dered in our beds if such senseless villainies as sen- 
tences of imprisonment were not committed daily. It 
is useless to argue that even if this were true^ which it 
is not, the alternative to adding crimes of our own to 
the crimes from which we suffer is not helpless sub- 
misdon. Chickenpox is an evil ; but if I were to declare 
that we must either submit to it or else repress it sternly 
by seizing everyone who suffers from it and punishing 
them by inoculation with smallpox^ I should be laughed 
at; for though nobody could deny that the- result would 
be to prevent chickenpox to some extent by making 
people avoid it much more carefully^ and to effect a 
further apparent prevention by making them conceal it 
very anxiously^ yet people would have sense enough to 
see that the deliberate propagation of smallpox was a 
creation of evil^ and must therefore be ruled out in 
favor of purely humane and hygienic measures. Yet in 
the precisely parallel case of a man breaking into my 
house and stealing my wife's diamonds I am expected 
as a matter of course to steal ten years of his life, tor- 
turing him all the time. If he tries to defeat that 
monstrous retaliation by shooting me, my survivors hang 
him. The net result suggested by the police statistics 
is that we inflict atrocious injuries on the burglars we 
catch in order to make the rest take effectual precautions 
against detection; so that instead of saving our wives' 
diamonds from burglary we only greatly decrease our 
chances of ever getting them ba(£, and increase our 
chances of being shot by the robber if we are unlucky 
enough to disturb him at his work. 

14 Major Barbara 

But the thoughtless wickedness with which we scatter 
sentences of imprisonment^ torture iq the solitary cell 
and on the plank bed^ and floggings on moral invalids 
and energetic rebels^ is as notiiing compared to the 
stupid levity with which we tolerate poverty as if it 

/ were either a wholesome tonic for lazy people or else a 
virtue to be embraced as St. Francis embraced it. If a 
man is indolent^ let him be poor. If he is drunken^ let 
him be poor. If he is not a gentleman^ let him be poor. 
If he is addicted to the fine arts or to pure science in- 
stead of to trade and finance^ let him be poor. If he 
chooses to spend his urban eighteen shillings a week or 
his agricultural thirteen shillings a week on his beer and 
his family instead of saving it up for his old age^ let him 
be poor. Let nothing be done for " the undeserving " : 
let him be poor. Serve him right ! Also — somewhat in- 
consistently — ^blessed are the poor! 

Now what does this Let Him Be Poor mean? It 
means let him be weak. Let him be ignorant. Let him 

^ become a nucleus of disease. Let him be a standing 
exhibition and example of ugliness and dirt. Let him 
have rickety children. Let him be cheap and let him 
drag his fellows down to his price by selling himself to 
do their work. Let his habitations turn our cities into 
poisonous congeries of slums. Let his daughters infect 
our young men with the diseases of the streets and his 
sons revenge him by turning the nation's manhood into 
scrofula^ cowardice, cruelty, hypocrisy, political imbe- 
cility, and all the other fruits of oppression and mal- 
nutrition. Let the undeserving become still less de- 
serving; and let the deserving lay up for himself, not 
treasures in heaven, but horrors in hell upon earth. This 
being so, is it really wise to let him be poor? Would 
he not do ten times less harm as a prosperous burglar, 
incendiary, ravisher or murderer, to the utmost limits 
of humanity's comparatively negligible impulses in these 
directions? Suppose we were to abolish all penaltiea 

First Aid to Critics 15 

for such activities^ and decide that poverty is the one 
thing we will not tolerate — ^that every adolt with less 
than^ say, JC365 a jear^shall be patinlessly _bpt inexorahly 
killed^ and^everyjbiwigry half .naked child forcibly fat- 
toied and clothed, would not thai be «m-^^ionaona im- 
provement on, our. ^'^g^gHng system^ which has already 
destroyed so many civilizations^ and is visibly destroying 
ours in the same way? 

Is there any radicle- of such legislation in our parlia- 
mentary system? Well, there are two measures just 
sprouting in the political soil, which may conceivably 
grow to something valuable. One is the institution of a 
Legal Minimum Wage. The other. Old Age Pensions. 
But there is a better plan than either of these. Some 
time ago I mentioned the subject of Universal Old Age 
Pensions to my fellow Socialist Mr. Cobden-Sanderson, 
famous as an artist-craftsman in bookbinding and print- 
ing. "Why not Universal Pensions for Life?" said 
Cobden-Sanderson. In saying this, he solved the in- 
dustrial problem at a stroke. At present we say cal- 
lously to each citizen: " If you want money, earn it," 
as if his having or not having it were a matter that 
concerned himself alone. We do not even secure for 
him the opportunity of earning it: on the contrary, we 
allow our industry to be organized in open dependence 
on the maintenance of "a reserve army of unemployed " 
for the sake of " elasticity." The sensible course would 
be Cobden-Sanderson's : that is, to give every man enough 
to live well on, so as to guarantee the community against 
the possibility of a case of the malignant disease of 
poverty, and then (necessarily) to see that he earned it. 

Undershaft, the hero of Major Barbara, is simply a 
man who, having grasped the fact that poverty is a 
crime, knows that when society offered him the alter- 
native of poverty or a lucrative trade in death and 
destruction, it offered him, not a choice between opulent 
villainy and humble virtue, but between energetic enter- 

16 Major Barbara 

prise and cowardly Jnf amy. His conduct stands the 
Kantian test^ which IPeter Shirley's does not. Peter 
Shirley is what we call the honest poor man. Under- 
shaft is what we call the wicked rich one: Shirley is 
Lazarus^ Undershaft Dives. Well, the misery of the 
world is due to the fact that the great mass of men act 
and believe as Peter Shirley acts and believes. If they 
acted and believed as Undershaft acts and believes, the 
immediate result would be a revolution of incalculable 
beneficence. To be wealthy, says Undershaft, is with 
me a point of honor for which I am prepared to kill 
at the risk of my own life. This preparedness is, as he 
says, the final test of sincerity. Like Froissart's medi- 
eval hero, who saw that "to rob and pill was a good 
life," he is not the dupe of that public sentiment against 
killing which is propagated and endowed by people who 
would otherwise be killed themselves, or of the mouth- 
honor paid to poverty and obedience by rich and in- 
subordinate do-nothings who want to rob the poor with- 
out courage and command them without superiority. 
Froissart's knight, in placing the achievement of a good 
life before all the otjier duties — ^which indeed are not 
duties at all when they conflict with it, but plain wicked- 
nesses — ^behaved bravely,/ admirably, and, in the final 
analysis, public-spiritedly. Medieval society, on the 
other hand, behaved very badly indeed in organizing 
itself so stupidly that a good life could be achieved by 
robbing and pilling. If the knight's contemporaries 
had been all as resolute as he, robbing and pilling would 
have been the shortest way to the gallows, just as, if 
we were all as resolute and clearsighted as Undershaft, 
an attempt to live by means of what is called " an inde- 
pendent income" would be the shortest way to the 
lethal chamber. But as, thanks to our political imbe- 
cility and personal cowardice (fruits of poverty, both), 
the best imitation of a good life now procurable is life 
on an independent income, aU sensible people aim at 


First Aid to Critics 17 

* scnring snch an income^ and are^ of course^ careful to 
^galize and moralize both it and all the actions and 
entiments which lead to it and support it as an institu- 
tion. What else can they do? They know^ of course, 
that they are rich because others are poor. But they 
''annot help that: it is for the poor to repudiate poverty 
rhen they have had enough of it. The thing can be 
lone easily enough : the demonstrations to the contrary 
. lade by the economists, jurists, moralists and senti- 
.aentalists hired by the rich to defend them, or even 
' loing the work gratuitously out of sheer folly and ab- 
^ectness, impose only on the hirers. 

The reason why the independent income-tax payers 
ire not solid in defence of their position is that since 
ve are not medieval rovers through a sparsely populated 
jountry, the poverty of those we rob prevents our hav- 
ng the good life for which we sacrifice them. Rich 
nen or aristocrats with a developed sense of life — men 
ike Ruskin and William Morris and Eropotkin — ^have 
•snormous social appetites and very fastidious personal 
rmes. They are not content with handsome houses: they 
^ant handsome cities. They are not content with be* 
liamonded wives and blooming daughters : they complain 
i)ecause the charwoman is badly dressed, because the 
laundress smells of gin, because tiie sempstress is anemic, 
because every man they meet is not a friend and every 
woman not a romance. They turn up their noses at 
their neighbors' drains, and are made ill by the archi- 
tecture of their neighbors' houses. Trade patterns made 
to suit vulgar people do not please them (and they can 
get nothing else) : they cannot sleep nor sit at ease upon 
" slaughtered " cabinet makers' furniture. The very air 
is not good enough for them: there is too much factory 
smoke in it. They even demand abstract conditions: 
justice, honor, a noble moral atmosphere, a mystic nexus 
to replace the cash nexus. FinaUy they declare that 
though to rob and pill with your own hand on horseback 


18 Major Barbara 

and in steel coat may have been a good life, to rob andt 
pill by the hands of the policeman, the bailiff, and the*, 
soldier, and to underpay them meanly for doing it, is 
not a good life, but rather fatal to all possibility of even 
a tolerable one. They call on the poor to revolt, and, 
finding the poor shocked at their ungentlemanliness, 
despairingly revile the proletariat for its " damned want- 
lessness " {verdammte Bedurfnislosigkeit). 

So far, however, their attack on society has lacked 
simplicity. The poor do not share their tastes nor un- 
derstand their art-criticisms. They do not want the 
simple life, nor the esthetic lifej on the contrary, they 
want very much to wallow in all the costly vulgarities 
from which the elect souls among the rich turn away 
with loathing. It is by surfeit and not by abstinence 
that they will be cured of their hankering after un- 
wholesome sweets. What they do dislike and despise 
and are ashamed of is poverty. To ask them to fight 
for the difference between the Christmas number of the 
Illustrated London News and the Kelmscott Chaucer 
is silly: they prefer the News. The difference between 
a stockbroker's cheap and dirty starched white shirt and 
collar and the comparatively costly and carefully dyed 
blue shirt of William Morris is a difference so disgrace- 
ful to Morris in their eyes that if they fought on the 
subject at all, they would fight in defence of the starch. 
" Cease to be slaves, in order that you may become 
cranks " is not a very inspiring call to arms ; nor is it 
really improved by substituting saints for cranks. Both 
terms denote men of genius; and the common man does 
not want to live the life of a man of genius: he would 
much rather live the life of a pet collie if that were the 
only alternative. But he does want more money. What- 
ever else he may be vague about, he is clear about that. 
He may or may not prefer Major Barbara to the Drury 
Lane pantomime; but he always prefers five hundred 
pounds to five hundred shillings. 


First Aid to Critics 19 

Now to deplore this preference as sordid^ and teacH 
children that it is sinfid to desire monej^ is to strain 
towards the extreme possible limit of impudence in lyings 
and corruption in hypocrisy. The universal regard for 
money is tiie one hopeful fact in our civilization^ the one 
sound spot in our social conscience. Money is the most 
important thing in the world. It represents Ji eaAth.^ 
SCT^g tft, liohorj goierosity and beauty as consp icuqnaly 
gfid unHeniably as the wa nt- 0^ ^*^- r#>prftfiftp^^g ilkiess, 
w ^Jmess, disgraces meanness an ^ uglinPfls. NH the 
le ast of its virtues is th at }^- ^figf rny^ base people a a 
g grtainly as it fortifies an^ f^igrr]jfipf tiftbltjfoplf It 
IS only when it is cheapened to worthlessness for some^ 
and made impossibly dear to others^ that it becomes a 
curse. In shorty it is a curse only in such foolish social 
conditions that life itself is a curse. For the two things 
are inseparable: money is the counter that enables life 
to be distributed socially: it it life as truly as sovereigns 
and bank notes are money. The first duty of every 
citizen is to insist on having money on reasonable terms; 
and this demand is not complied with by giving four 
men three shillings each for ten or twelve hours' drudg- 
ery and one man a thousand pounds for nothing. The 
crying need of the nation is not for better morals^ cheaper 
bread, temperance^ liberty, culture, redemption of fallen 
sisters and erring brothers, nor the grace, love and fel- 
lowship^ of the Trinity, but simply for enough money. 
And the evil to be attacked is not sin, suffering, greed, ^ 
pries&raft, kingcraft, demagogy, monopoly, ignorance, 
drink, war, pestilence, nor any other of the scapegoats 
which reformers sacrifice, but sim pl Y . pov ert] 

Once take your eyes from the ends of the earth and 
fix them on this truth just under your nose; and Andrew 
Undershaft's views will not perplex you in the least. 
Unless indeed his constant sense that he is only the 
instrument of a Will or Life Force which uses him for 
purposes wider than his own, may puzzle you. If so^ 

20 Major Barbara 

that is because you are walking either in artificial Dar- 
winian darkness^ or in mere stupidity. All genuinely 
religious people have that consciousness. To them Un- 
dershaft the Mystic will be quite intelligible^ and his 
perfect comprehension of his daughter the Salvationist 
and her lover the Euripidean republican natural and in- 
evitable. That^ however, is not new, even on the stage. 
What is new, as far as I know, i s that article in Under- 
sfiaf t's religion which recognizes In Money the first need 
and in poverty the vilest sin of man and society* 

This dramatic conception has not, of course, been 
attained per saltum. Nor has it been borrowed from 
Nietzsche or from any man bom beyond the Channel. 
The late Samuel Butler, in his own department the 
greatest English writer of the latter half of the XIX 
century, steadily inculcated the necessity and morality 
of a conscientious Laodiceanism in religion and of an 
earnest and constant sense of the importance of money. 
It drives one almost to despair of English literature 
when one sees so extraordinary a study of English life 
as Butler's posthumous Way of All Flesh makiag so 
little impression that when, some years later, I produce 
plays in which Butler's extraordinarily fresh, free and 
future-piercing suggestions have an obvious share, I am 
met with nothing but vague cacklings about Ibsen and 
Nietzsche, and am only too thankfid that they are not 
about Alfred de Musset and Georges Sand. Really, 
the English do not deserve to have great men. They 
allowed Butler to die practically unlmown^ whilst I, a 
comparatively insignificant Irish journalist, was leading 
them by the nose into ah advertisement of me which has 
made my own life a burden. In Sicily there is a Via 
Samuele Butler. When an English tourist sees it, he 
either asks ** Who the devil was Samuele Butler ? " or 
wonders why the Sicilians should perpetuate the memory 
of the author of Hudibras. 

Well^ it cannot be denied that the English are only 


First Aid to Critics 21 

too anxious to recognize a man of genius if somebody 
will kindly point him out to them. Having pointed my- 
self out in this manner with some success^ I now point 
out Samuel Butler^ and trust that in consequence I shall 
hear a little less in future of the novelty and foreign 
origin of the ideas which are now making their way into 
the English theatre through plays written by Socialists. 
There are living men whose originality and power are 
as obvious as Butler's; and when they die that fact will 
be discovered. Meanwhile I recommend them to insist 
on their own merits as an important part of their own 

Thb Salvation Army. 

When Major Barbara was produced in London^ the 
second act was reported in an important northern news- 
paper as a withering attack on the Salvation Army^ and 
the despairing ejaculation of Barbara deplored by a 
London daily as a tasteless blasphemy. And they were 
set rights not by the professed critics of the theatre^ 
but by religious and philosophical publicists like Sir 
Oliver Lodge and Dr. Stanton Coit^ and strenuous Non- 
conformist journalists like Mr. William Steady who not 
only understand the act as well as the Salvationists 
themselves^ but also saw it in its relation to the religious 
life of the nation, a life which seems to lie not only 
outside the sympathy of many of our theatre critics^ 
but actually outside their knowledge of society. Indeed 
nothing could be more ironically curious than the con- 
frontation Major Barbara effected of the theatre en- 
thusiasts with the religious enthusiasts. On the one 
hand was the playgoer^ always seeking pleasure^ paying 
exorbitantly for it^ suffering unbearable discomforts for 
it^ and hardly ever getting it. On the other hand was 
the Salvationist, repudiating gaiety and comrting effort 
and sacrifice, yet always in the wildest spirits, laughing. 

22 Major Barbara 

joking, singing, rejoicing, dramming, and lambourin- 
ing: his life flying by in a flash of excitement, and his 
death arriving as a climax of triumph. And, if yon 
please, the playgoer despising the Salvationist as a joy- 
less person, shut out from the heaven of the theatre, 
self -condemned to a life of hideous gloom; and the Sal- 
vationist mourning over the playgoer as over a prodigal 
with vine leaves in his hair, careering outrageously to 
hell amid the popping of champagne corks and the 
ribald laughter of sirens! Could misimderstanding be 
more complete, or sympathy worse misplaced? 

Fortunately, the Salvationists are more accessible to 
the religious character of the drama than the playgoers 
to the gay energy and artistic fertility of religion. They 
can see, when it is pointed out to them, that a theatre, 
as a place where two or three are gathered together, 
takes from that divine presence an inalienable sanctity 
of which the grossest and profanest farce can no more 
deprive it than a hypocritical sermon by a snobbish 
bishop can desecrate Westminster Abbey. But in our 
professional playgoers this indispensable preliminary 
conception of sanctity seems wanting. They talk of 
actors as mimes and mummers, and, I fear, think of 
dramatic authors as liars and pandars, whose main busi- 
ness is the voluptuous soothing of the tired city specu- 
lator when what he calls the serious business of the day 
is over. Passion, the life of drama, means nothing to 
them but primitive sexual excitement: such phrases as 
" impassioned poetry " or " passionate love of truth " 
have fallen quite out of their vocabulary and been re- 
placed by " passional crime " and the like. They as- 
sume, as far as I can gather, that people in whom pas- 
sion has a larger scope are passionless and therefore 
uninteresting. Consequently they come to think of re- 
ligious people as people who are not interesting and not 
amusing. And so, when Barbara cuts the regular Salva- 
tion Army jokes, and snatches a kiss from her lover 

First Aid to Critics 28 

across Us drum^ the devotees of the theatre think they 
ought to appear shocked^ and conclude that the whole 
play is an elaborate mockery of the Army. And then 
either hypocritically rebuke me for mocking^ or fool- 
ishly take part in the supposed mockery! 

£yen the handful of mentally competent critics got 
into difficulties over my demonstration of the economic 
deadlock in which the Salvation Army finds itself. Some 
of them thought that the Army would not have taken 
money from a distiller and a cannon founder: others 
thought it should not have taken it: all assumed more 
or less definitely that it reduced itself to absurdity or 
hypocrisy by taking it. On the first point the reply of 
the Army itself was prompt and conclusive. As one of 
its officers said, they would take money from the devil 
himself an d, be only too glad to get it out of .his hands 
i md' int o God's. They gratefully acknowledged that 
publicans not only give them money but allow them to 
collect it in the bar — sometimes even when there is a 
Salvation meeting outside preaching teetotalism* In 
fact, they questioned the verisimilitude of the play, not 
because Mrs. Baines took the money, but because Bar- 
bara refused it. 

On the point that the Army ought not to take such 
money^ its justification is obvious. It must take the 
money because it cannot exist without money, and there \ 
is no other money to be had. Practically all the spare 
money in the country consists of a mass of rent, interest, 
and profit, every penny of which is bound up with crime, 
drink, prostitution, disease, and all the evil fruits of 
poverty, as inextricably as with enterprise, wealth, com- 
mercial probity, and national prosperity. The notion 
that you can earmark certain coins as tainted is an un- 
practical individualist superstition. None the less the 
fact that all our money is tainted gives a very severe 
shock to earnest young souls when some dramatic in- 
stance of the taint first makes them conscious of it. 

24 Major Barbara 

When an enihtisiastic young clergyman of the Estab- 
lished Church first realizes that the Ecclesiastical Com- 
missioners receive the rents of sporting public houses^ 
brothels^ and sweating dens; or IJiat the most generous 
contributor at his last charity sermon was an employer 
trading in female labor cheapened by prostitution as 
unscrupulously as a hotel keeper trades in waiters' labor 
cheapened by tips^ or commissionaire's labor cheapened 
by pensions; or that the only patron who can afford to 
rebuild his church or his schools or give his boys' brigade 
a gymnasium or a library is the son-in-law of a Chicago 
meat King^ that young clergyman has^ like Barbara^ a 
very bad quarter hour. But he cannot help himself by 
refusing to accept money from anybody except sweet 
old ladies with independent incomes and gentle and 
lovely ways of life. He has only to follow up the in- 
come of the sweet ladies to its industrial source^ and 
there he will find Mrs. Warren's profession and the 
poisonous canned meat and all the rest of it. His own 
stipend has the same root. He must either share the 
world's guilt or go to another planet. He must save 
{he world's honor if he is to save his own. This is what 
all the Churches find just as. the Salvation Army and 
Barbara find it in the play. |Her discovery that she is 
her father's accomplice; thatjthe Salvation Army is the 
accomplice of the distiller and the dynamite maker; that 
they can no more escape one another than they can 
escape the air they breathe; that there is no salvation 
for them through personal righteousness^ but only 
through the redemption of the whole nation from its 
vicious^ l&zjy competitive anarchy: this discovery has 
been made by everyone except the Pharisees and (ap- 
parently) the professional playgoers^ who still wear 
their Tom Hood shirts and underpay their washerwomen 
without the slightest misgiving as to the elevation of 
their private characters, the purity of their private at- 
mospheres^ and their right to repudiate as foreign to 

First Aid to Critics 25 

ihemselves the coarse depravity of the garret and the 
slum. Not that they mean any harm: they only desire 
to be, in their little private way, what they call gentle-^ 
men. They do not understand Barbara's lesson because y/ 
they have not, like her, learnt it by taking their part in 
the larger life of the nation. 

Barbara's Return to the Colors. 

Barbara's return to the colors may yet provide a sub- 
ject for the dramatic historian of the future. To go 
back to the Salvation Army with the knowledge that 
even the Salvationists themselves are not saved yet; that^ 
poverty is not blessed, but a most damnable sin; and 
that when General Booth chose Blood and Fire for the 
emblem of Salvation instead of the Cross, he was per- 
haps better inspired than he knew: such knowledge, for 
the daughter of Andrew Undershaft, will clearly lead 
to something hopefuUer than distributing bread and 
treacle at the expense of Bodger. 

It is a very significant thing, this instinctive choice of 
the military form of organization, this substitution of 
the drum for the organ, by the Salvation Army. Does 
it not suggest that the Salvationists divine tiiat they 
must actually fight the devil instead of merely praying 
at him? At present, it is true, they have not quite 
ascertained his correct address. When they do, they 
may give a very rude shock to that sense of security 
which he has gained from his experience of the fact 
that hard words, even when uttered by eloquent essay- 
ists and lecturers, or carried unanimously at enthusiastic 
public meetings on the motion of eminent reformers, 
break no bones. It has been said that the French Revo- 
lution was the work of Voltaire, Rousseau and the En- 
cyclopedists. It seems to me to have been the work of 
men who had observed that virtuous indignation^ caustic 

26 Major Barbara 

criticism^ conclusive argument and instructive pamphlet- 
eering^ even when done by the most earnest and witty 
literary geniuses^ were as useless as prayings things go- 
ing steadily from bad to worse whilst the Social Con- 
tract and the pamphlets of Voltaire were at the height 
of their vogue. Eventually, as we know, perfectly 
respectable citizens and earnest philanthropists con- 
nived at the September massacres because hard experi- 
ence had convinced them that if they contented them- 
selves with appeals to humanity and patriotism, the 
aristocracy, though it would read their appeals with the 
greatest enjoyment and appreciation, flattering and ad- 
miring the writers, would none the less continue to 
conspire with foreign monarchists to undo the revolution 
and restore the old system with every circumstance of 
savage vengeance and ruthless repression of popular 

The nineteenth century saw the same lesson repeated 
in England. It had its Utilitarians, its Christian Social- 
ists, its Fabians (still extant) : it had Bentham, Mill, 
Dickens, Buskin, Carlyle, Butler, Henry George, and 
Morris. And the end of all their efforts is the Chicago 
described by Mr. Upton Sinclair, and the London in 
which the people who pay to be amused by my dramatic 
representation of Peter Shirley turned out to starve at 
forty because there are younger slaves to be had for his 
wages, do not take, and have not the slightest intention 
of taking, any effective step to organize society in such 
a way as to make that everyday infamy impossible. I, 
who have preached and pamphleteered like any Ency- 
clopedist, have to confess that my methods are no use, 
and would be no use if I were Voltaire, Rousseau, 
Bentham, Mill, Dickens, Carlyle, Ruskin, George, But- 
ler, and Morris all rolled into one, with Euripides, More, 
Moli^re, Shakespear, Beaumarchais, Swift, Goeihe, Ib- 
sen, Tolstoy, Moses and the prophets all thrown in (as 
indeed in some sort I actually am, standing as I do on 

First Aid to Critics 27 

all their shoulders). The problem being to make heroes 
out of cowards^ we paper apostles and artist-magicians 
have succeeded only in giving cowards all the sensations 
of heroes whilst they tolerate every abomination, accept 
eve^ plunder, and Lbmit to ever^ oppression. Chr£- 
tianity^ in making a merit of such submission, has 
marked only that depth in the abyss at which the very 
sense of shame is lost. The Christian has been like 
Dickens' doctor in the debtor's prison, who tells the 
newcomer of its ineffable peace and security: no duns; 
no tyrannical collectors of rates, taxes, and rent; no 
importunate hopes nor exacting duties; nothing but the 
rest and safety of having no further to fall. 

Yet in the poorest comer of this soul-destroying 
Christendom vitality suddenly begins to germinate 
again. Joyousness, a sacred gift long dethroned by the 
hellish laughter of derision and obscenity, rises like a 
flood miraculously out of the fetid dust and mud of the 
slums; rousing marches and impetuous dithyrambs rise 
to the heavens from people among whom the depressing 
noise called "sacred music" is a standing joke; a flag 
with Blood and Fire on it is unfurled, not in murderous 

ncor, but because fire is beautiful and blood a vital 
splendid red; Fear, which we flatter by calling Self, 
jhes; and transfigured men and women carry their 

3pel through a transfigured world, calling their leader 
Jeneral, themselves captains and brigadiers, and their 
whole body an Army: praying, but praying only for 
refreshment, for strength to fight, and for needful 
Monet (a notable sign, that); preaching, but not 
preaching submission; daring ill-usage and abuse, but 
not putting up with more of it than is inevitable; and 
practising what the world will let them practise, includ- 
ing soap and water, color and music. There is danger 
in such activity ; and where there is danger there is hope. 
Our present security is nothing, and can be nothing, but 
evil made irresistible. 

28 Major Barbara 

Weaknesses of the Salvation Army. 

For the present, however, it is not my business to 
flatter the Salvation Anny. Rather must I point out 
to it that it has almost as many weaknesses as the 
Church of England itself. It is building up a business 
organization which will compel it eventually to see that 
its present staff of enthusiast-conunanders shall be suc- 
ceeded by a bureaucracy of men of business who will 
be no better than bishops, and perhaps a good deal more 
unscrupulous. That has always happened sooner or 
later to great orders founded by saints; and the order 
founded by St. William Booth is not exempt from the 
same danger. It is even more dependent than the Church 
on rich people who would cut off supplies at once if it 
began to preach that indispensable revolt against pov- 
erty which must also be a revolt against riches. It is 
hampered by a heavy contingent of pious elders who are 
not really Salvationists at all, but Evangelicals of the 
old school. It still, as Commissioner Howard affirms, 
" sticks to Moses," which is flat nonsense at this time of 
day if the Commissioner means, as I am afraid he does, 
that the Book of Genesis contains a trustworthy scientific 
account of the origin of species, and that t^e god to 
whom Jephthah sacrificed his daughter is any less ob- 
viously a tribal idol than Dagon or Chemosh. 

Further, there is still too much other-worldliness 
about the Army. Like Frederick's grenadier, the Sal- 
vationist wants to live for ever (the most monstrous way 
of crying for the moon) ; and though it is evident to 
anyone who has ever heard General Booth and his best 
officers that they would work as hard for human salva- 
tion as they do at present if they believed that death 
would be the end of them individually, they and their 
followera have a bad habit of talking as if the Salva- 
tionists were heroically enduring a very bad time on 
earth as an investment which ^dU bring them in divi- 

First Aid to Critics 29 

dends later on in ijbe form^ not of a better life to come 
for the whole world, but of an eternity spent by them- 
selves personally in a sort of bliss which would bore 
any active person to a second death. Surely the truth 
is that the Salvationists are unusually happy people. 
And is it not the very diagnostic of true salvation that 
it sh^U overcome the fear of death? Now the man who 
has come to believe that there is no such thing as death, 
the change so called being merely the transition to an 
exquisitely happy and utterly careless life, has not over- 
come the fear of death at all: on the contrary, it has 
overcome him so completely that he refuses to die on 
any terms whatever, I do not call a Salvationist really 
saved until he is ready to lie down cheerfully on the 
scrap heap, having paid scot and lot and something 
over, and let his eternal life pass on to renew its youth 
in the battalions of the future. 

Then there is the nasty lying habit called confession, 
which the Army encourages because it lends itself to 
dramatic oratory, with plenty of thrilling incident. For 
my part, when I hear a convert relating the violences 
and oaths and blasphemies he was guilty of before he 
was saved, making out that he was a very terrible fellow 
then and is the most contrite and chastened of Christians 
now, I believe him no more than I believe the millionaire 
who says he came up to London or Chicago as a boy 
with only three halfpence in his pocket. Salvationists 
have said to me that Barbara in my play would never 
have been taken in by so transparent a humbug as Snobby 
Price; and certainly I do not think Snobby could have 
taken in any experienced Salvationist on a point on 
which the Salvationist did not wish to be taken in. But 
on the point of conversion all Salvationists wish to be 
taken in; for the more obvious the sinner the more ob- 
vious the miracle of his conversion. When you advertize 
a converted burglar or reclaimed dnmkard as one of the 
attractions at an axperience meetings your burglar can 

80 Major Barbara 

hardly have been too burglarious or your drunkard too 
drunken. As long as such attractions are relied on^ you 
will have your Snobbies claiming to have beaten their 
mothers when they were as a matter of prosaic fact 
habitually beaten by them^ and your Rummies of the 
tamest respectability pretending to a past of reckless 
and dazzling vice. Even when confessions are sincerely 
autobiographic there is no reason to assume at once that 
the impulse to make them is pious or the interest of the 
hearers wholesome. It might as well be assumed that 
the poor people who insist on shewing appalling ulcers 
to district visitors are convinced hygienists^ or that the 
curiosity which sometimes welcomes such exhibitions is 
a pleasant and creditable one. One is often tempted to 
suggest that those who pester our police superintendents 
with confessions of murder might very wisely be taken 
at their word and executed^ except in the few cases in 
which a real murderer is seeking to be relieved of his 
guilt by confession and expiation. For though I am 
not^ I hope^ an immerciful person^ I do not think that 
the inexorability of the deed once done should be dis- 
guised by any ritual^ whether in the confessional or on 
the scaffold. 

And here my disagreement with the Salvation Army, 
and with all propagandists of the Cross (to which I 
object as I object to all gibbets) becomes deep indeed. 
v/ Forgiveness, absolution, atonement, are figments : punish- 
ment is only a pretence of cancelling one crime by an- 
other; and you can no more have forgiveness without 
vindictiveness than you can have a cure without a disease. 
You will never get a high morality^ j^rom people who 
conceive that their, misdeeds are revocable, and pardon- 
able, or in a society where absolution and expiation are 
officially provided for us all. The demand may be very 
real; but the supply is spurious. Thus Bill Walker, in 
my play, having assaulted the Salvation Lass, presently 
finds himself overwhelmed with an intolerable conviction 

First Aid to Critics 81 

of sin under the skilled treatment of Barbara. Straight- 
way he begins to try to unassanlt the lass and demffian- 
ize his deed^ first by getting punished for it in kind^ 
and^ when that relief is denied him^ by fining himself a 
pound to compensate the girL He is foiled both ways. 
He finds the Salvation Army as inexorable as fact itself. 
It will not punish him: it will not take his money. It 
will not tolerate a redeemed ruffian: it leaves him no 
means of salvation except ceasing to be a ruffian. In 
doing this^ the Salvation Army instinctively grasps the 
central truth of Christianity and discards its central 
superstition: that central truth being the vanity of re- 
venge aiiid punishment; and that central superstition thp 
salvation of the world by the gibbet. 

For^ be it noted^ Bill has assaulted an old and starving 
woman also; and for this worse offence he feels no re- 
morse whatever^ because she makes it clear that her 
malice is as great as his own. " Let her have the law 
of me^ as she said she would/' says Bill: '* what I done 
to her is no more on what you might call my conscience 
than sticking a pig." This shews a perfectly natural 
and wholesome state of mind on his part. The old 
woman^ like the law she threatens him with^ is perfectly 
ready to play the game of retaliation with him: to rob 
him if he steals, to flog him if he strikes^ to murder him 
if he kills. By example and precept the law and public 
opinion teach him to impose his will on others by anger^ 
violence^ and cruelty^ and to wipe off the moral score 
by punishment. That is sound Crosstianity. But this 
Crosstianity has got entangled with something which 
Barbara calls Christianity, and which unexpectedly 
causes her to refuse to play the hangman's game of 
Satan casting out Satan. She refuses to prosecute a 
drunken ruffian; she converses on equal terms with a 
blackguard whom no lady could be seen speaking to in 
the public street: in short, she behaves as illegally and 
unbecomingly as possible under the circumstances. Bill's 


82 Major Barbara 

conscience reacts to this just as naturally as it does to 
the old woman's threats. He is placed in a position of 
unbearable moral inferiority, and strives by every means 
in his power to escape from it, whilst he is still quite 
ready to meet the abuse of the old woman by attempting 
to smash a mug on her face. And that is the triumphant 
justification of Barbara's Christianity as against our 
system of judicial punishment and the vindictive villain- 
thrashings and ** poetic justice " of the romantic stage. 

For the credit of literature it must be pointed out that 
the situation is only partly novel. Victor Hugo long 
Ago gave us the epic of the convict and the bishop's 
candlesticks, of the Crosstian policeman annihilated by 
his encounter with the Christian Valjean. But Bill 
Walker is not, like Valjean, romantically changed from 
a demon into an angel. There are millions of Bill 
Walkers in all classes of society to-day; and the point 
which I, as a professor of natural psychology, desire to 
demonstrate, is that Bill, without any change in his 
character whatsoever, will react one way to one sort of - 
treatment and another way to another. 

In proof I might point to the sensational object lesson 
provided by our commercial millionaires to-day. They 
begin as brigands: merciless, tmscrupulous, dealing out 
ruin and death and slavery to their competitors and em- 
ployees, and facing desperately the worst that their 
competitors can do to them. The history of the English 
factories, the American trusts, the exploitation of Afri- 
can gold, diamonds, ivory and rubber, outdoes in vil- 
lainy the worst that has ever been imagined of the buc- 
caneers of the Spanish Main. Captain Kidd would have 
marooned a modem Trust magnate for conduct unworthy 
of a gentleman of fortune. The law every day seizes on 
unsuccessful scoundrels of this type and punishes them 
with a cruelty worse than their own, with the result 
that they come out of the torture house more dangerous 
than they went in^ and renew their evil doing (nobody 

First Aid to Critics 88 

will employ them at anjtihing else) mitil they are again 
seized^ again tormented^ and again let loose^ with the 
same result. 

But the successful scoundrel is dealt with very differ- 
ently, and very Christianly. He is not only forgiven: 
he is idolized, respected, made much of, all hut wor- 
shipped. Society returns him good for evil in the most 
extravagant overmeasure. And with what result? He 
begins to idolize himself, to respect himself, to live up 
to the treatment he receives. He preaches sermons; he 
writes books of the most edifying advice to young men, 
and actually persuades himself that he got on by taking 
his own advice; he endows educational institutions; he 
supports charities ; he dies finally in the odor of sanctity, 
leaving a will which is a monument of public spirit and 
bounty. And all this without any change in his charac- 
ter. The spots of the leopard and the stripes of the 
tiger are as brilliant as ever; but the conduct of the 
world towards him has changed; and his conduct has 
changed accordingly. You have only to reverse your 
attitude towards him — ^to lay hands on his property, 
revile him, assault him, and he will be a brigand again 
in a moment, as ready to crush you as you are to crush 
him, and quite as f uU of pretentious moral reasons for 
doing it. 

In short, when Major Barbara says that there are no 
scoundrels, she is right: there are no absolute scoun- 
drels, though there are impracticable people of whom 
I shall treat presently. Every practicable man (and y 
woman) is a potential scoundrel and a potential good 
citizen. What a man is depends on his character; but 
what he does, and what we think of what he does, de- 
pends on his circumstances. The characteristics thiit 
ruin a ma n in o ne class make him eminent in .Miother. 
The characters that behave differently in different cir- 
cumstances behave alike in similar circumstances. Take 
a common English character like that of Bill Walker. 


84 Major Barbara 

We meet Bill everywhere: oh the judicial bench^ on the 
episcopal bench^ in the Privy Council^ at the War OflSice 
and Admiralty, as well as in the Old Bailey dock or in 
the ranks of casual unskilled labor. And the morality 
of Bill's characteristics varies with these various circum- 
stances. The faults of the burglar are the qualities of 
the financier: the manners and habits of a duke would 
cost a city clerk his situation. In short, though charac- 
ter is independent of circumstances, conduct is not; and 
our moral judgments of character are not: both are cir- 
cumstantiaL Take any condition of life in which the 
circumstances are for a mass of men practically alike: 
felony, the House of Lords, the factory, the stables, 
the gipsy encampment or where you please! In spite 
of diversity of character and temperament, the conduct 
and morals of the individuals in each group are as 
predicable and as alike in the main as if they were a 
flock of sheep, morals being mostly only social habits 
and circumstantial necessities. Strong people know this 
and count upon it. In nothing have die master-minds 
of the world been distinguished from the ordinary 
suburban season-ticket holder more than in their straight- 
forward perception of the fact that mankind is practi- 
cally a single species, and not a menagerie of gentlemen 
and bounders, villains and heroes, cowards and dare- 
devils, peers and peasants, grocers and aristocrats, arti- 
sans and laborers, washerwomen and duchesses, in which 
all the grades of income and caste represent distinct ani- 
mals who must not be introduced to one another or inter- 
marry. Napoleon constructing a galaxy of generals and 
courtiers, and even of monarchs, out of his collection of 
social nobodies; Julius Caesar appointing as governor of 
Egypt the son of a f reedman — one who but a short time 
before would have been legally disqualified for the post 
even of a private soldier in the Roman army; Louis 
XI. making his barber his privy councillor: all these had 
in their different ways a firm hold of the scientific fact 

First Aid to Critics 85 

of faiumaQ equality^ expressed hj Barbara in the Chris- 
tian formula that all men are children of one father. 
A man who believes that men are naturally divided into 
upper and lower and middle classes morally is making ^ 
exactly the same mistake as the man who believes that 
they are naturally divided in the same way socially. 
And just as our persistent attempts to found political 
institutions on a basis of social inequality have always 
produced long periods of destructive friction relieved 
from time to time by violent explosions of revolution; 
so the attempt — ^will Americans please note — ^to found 
mbral institutions on a basis of moral inequality can lead 
to nothing but unnatural Reigns of the Saints relieved 
by licentious Restorations; to Americans who have made 
divorce a public institution turning the face of Europe 
into one huge sardonic smile by refusing to stay in the 
same hotel with a Russian man of genius who has 
changed wives without the sanction of South Dakota; 
to grotesque hypocrisy^ cruel persecution^ and final utter 
confusion of conventions and compliances with benevo- 
lence and respectability. It is quite useless to declare 
that all men are born free if you deny that they are 
bom good. Guarantee a man's goodness and his liberty 
will take care of itself. To guarantee his freedom on 
condition that you approve of his moral character is 
formally to abolish all freedom whatsoever^ as every 
man's Hberty is at the mercy of a moral indictment, 
which any fool can trump up against everyone who vio- 
lates custom, whether as a prophet or as a rascal. This 
is the lesson Democracy has to learn before it can be- 
come anything but the most oppressive of all the priest- 

Let us now return to Bill Walker and his case of 
conscience against the Salvation Army. Major Barbara, 
not being a modem Tetzel, or the treasurer of a hos- 
pital, refuses to sell Bill absolution for a sovereign. 
Unfortunately, what the Army can afford to refuse in 

86 Major Barbara 

the case of Bill Walker^ it cannot refuse in the case of 
Bodger. Bodger is master of the situation because he 
holds the purse strings. "Strive as you will," says 
Bodger, in effect: "me you cannot do without. You 
cannot save Bill Walker without my money." And the 
Army answers, quite rightly under the circumstances, 
" We will take money from the devil himself sooner 
than abandon the work of Salvation." So Bodger pays 
his conscience-money and gets the absolution that is 
refused to BilL In real life Bill would perhaps never 
know this. But I, the dramatist, whose business it is 
to shew the connexion between things that seem apart 
and unrelated in the haphazard order of events in real 
life, have contrived to make it known to Bill, with the 
result that the Salvation Army loses its hold of him at 

But Bill may not be lost, for all that. He is still in 
the grip of the facts and of his own conscience, and 
may find his taste for blackguardism permanently 
spoiled. Still, I cannot guarantee that happy ending. 
Let anyone walk through the poorer quarters of our 
cities when the men are not working, but resting and 
chewing the cud of their reflections; and he will find 
that there is one expression on every mature facs: the 
expression of cynicism. The discovery made by Bill 
Walker about tiie Salvation Army has been made by 
everyone of them. They have found that every man 
has his price; and they have been foolishly or corruptly 
taught to mistrust and despise him for that necessary 
and salutary condition of social existence. When they 
learn that General Booth, too, has his price, they do 
not admire him because it is a high one, and admit the 
need of organizing society so that he shall get it in an 
honorable way: they conclude that his character is un-* 
sound and that all religious men are hypocrites and 
allies of their sweaters and oppressors. They know that 
the large subscriptions which help to support the Army 

J'irst Aid to Critics 87 

are endowments^ not of religion^ but of the wicked doc- 
trine of docility in poverty and humility tmder oppres- 
sion; and they are rent by the most agonizing of all the 
doubts of the soul^ the doubt whether tiieir true salvation 
must not come from their most abhorrent passions^ from 
murder, envy^ gi^eed, stubbornness^ rage^ and terrorism^ 
rather than from public spirit^ reasonableness^ humanity^ 
generosity, tenderness, delicacy, pity and kindness. The 
confirmation of that doubt, at which our newspapers 
have been working so hard for years past, is the moral- 
ity of militarism; and the 'justification of militarism is 
that circumstances may at any time make it the true 
morality of the moment. It is by producing such mo- 
ments that we produce violent and sanguinary revolu- 
tions, such as tiie one now in progress in Russia and 
the one which Capitalism in £ngland and America is 
daily and diligently provoking. 

At such moments it becomes the duty of the Churches 
to evoke all the powers of destruction against the exist- 
ing order. But if they do this, the existing order must 
forcibly suppress them. Churches are suffered to exist 
only on condition that they preach submission to the 
State as at present capitalistically organized. The 
Church of England itself is compelled to add to the 
thirty-six articles in which it formulates its religious 
tenets, three more in which it apologetically protests that 
the moment any of these articles comes in conflict with 
.the State it is to be entirely renounced, abjured, violated, 
abrogated and abhorred, the policeman being a much 
more important person than any of the Persons of the 
Trinity. And this is why no tolerated Church nor Sal- 
vation Army can ever win the entire confidence of the 
poor. It must be on the side of the police and the 
military, no matter what it believes or disbelieves; and 
as the police and the military are the instruments by 
which ilie rich rob and oppress the poor (on legal and 
moral principles made for the purpose), it is not;,pos- 

88 Major Barbara 

sible to be on the side of the poor and of the police at 
the same time. Indeed the religious bodies, as the almon- 
ers of the rich, become a sort of auxiliar; police, taking 
off the insurrectionary edge of poverty with coals and 
blankets, bread and treacle, and soothLag and cheering 
the victims with hopes of immense and inexpensive hap- 
piness in another world when the process of working 
them to premature death in the service of the rich la 

First Aid to Critics 89 

moment by a novelist, Mr. Upton Sinclair^ who chips a 
comer of the veneering from the huge meat packing 
industries of Chicago^ and shews it to us as a sample 
of what is going on all over the world imdemeath the 
top layer of prosperous plutocracy. One man is suffi- 
ciently moved by that contrast to pay his own life as 
the price of one terrible blow at the responsible parties. 
Unhappily his poverty leaves him also igpiorant enough 
to be duped by the pretence that the innocent young 
bride and bridegroom^ put forth and crowned by 
plutocracy as the heads of a State in which they have 
less personal power than any policeman^ and less influ- 
ence than any chairman of a trust, are responsible. At 
them accordingly he launches his sixpennorth of ful- 
minate, missing his mark, but scattering the bowels of 
as many horses as any bull in the arena, and slaying 
twenty-three persons, besides wounding ninetynine. 
And of all these, the horses alone are innocent of the 
guilt he is avenging: had he blown all Madrid to atoms 
with every adult person in it, not one could have escaped 
the charge of being an accessory, before, at, and after 
the fact, to poverty and prostitution, to such wholesale 
massacre of infants as Herod never dreamt of, to plague, 
pestilence and famine, battle, murder and lingering 
death — ^perhaps not one who had not helped, through 
example, precept, connivance, and even clamor, to teach 
the dynainiter his well-learnt gospel of hatred and ven- 
geance, by approving every day of sentences of years of 
imprisonment so infernal in its unnatural stupidity and 
panic-stricken cruelty, that their advocates can disavow 
neither the dagger nor the bomb without stripping the 
mask of justice and humanity from themselves also. 

Be it noted that at this very moment there appears the 
biography of one of our dukes, who, being Scotch, could 
argue about politics, and therefore stood out as a great 
brain among our aristocrats. And what, if you please, 
was his grace's favorite historical episode, which he de- 

40 Major Barbara 

clared he never read without intense satisfaction? Why, 
the young General Bonapart's pounding of the Paris 
mob to pieces in 1795, called in playful approval by our 
respectable classes "the whiff of grapeshot," though 
Napoleon, to do him justice, took a deeper view of it, 
and would fain have had it forgotten. And since the 
Duke of Argyll was not a demon, but a man of like 
passions with ourselves, by no means rancorous or cruel 
as men go, who can doubt that all over the world pro- 
letarians of the ducal kidney are now revelling in " the 
whiff of dynamite " (the flavor of the joke seems to 
evaporate a little, does it not?) because it was aimed at 
the class they h«te even as our argute duke hated what 
he called the mob. 

In such an atmosphere there can be only one sequel 
to the Madrid explosion. All £urope bums to emulate 
it. Vengeance! More blood! Tear "the Anarchist 
beast " to shreds. Drag him to the scaffold. Imprison 
him for life. Let all civilized States band together to 
drive his like off the face of the earth; and if any State 
refuses to join^ make war on it. This time the leading 
London newspaper, anti-Liberal and therefore anti-Rus- 
sian in politics, does not say " Serve you right " to the 
victims> as it did, in effect, when Bobrikoff, and De 
Plehve, and Grand Duke Sergiu3, were in the same 
manner unofficially fulminated into fragments. No : ful- 
minate our rivals in Asia by all means, ye brave Russian 
revolutionaries; but to aim at an English princess- 
monstrous ! hideous! hound down the wretch to his doom; 
and observe, please, that we are a civilized and merciful 
people, and, however much we may regret it, must not 
treat him as Ravaillac and Damiens were treated. And 
meanwhile, since we have not yet caught hlm^ let us 
soothe our quivering nerves with the buUfight, and com- 
ment in a courtly way on the unfailing tact and good 
taste of the ladies of our royal houses, who, though 
presumably of full normal natural tenderness, have boen 

First Aid to Critics 41 

so effectually broken in to fashionable routine that they 
can be taken to see the horses slaughtered as helplessly 
as they could no doubt be taken to a gladiator show^ if 
that happened to be the mode just now. 

Strangely enough^ in the midst of this raging fire of 
nudice^ tiie one man who still has faith in the kindness 
and intelligence of human nature is the fulminatory now 
a hunted wretch, with nothing, apparently, to secure his 
triumph over all the prisons and scaffolds of infuriate 
Europe except the revolver in his pocket and his readi- 
ness to discharge it at a moment's notice into his own 
or any other head. Think of him setting out to find a 
gentleman and a Christian In the multitude of human 
wolves howling for his blood. Think also of this: that 
at the very first essay he finds what he seeks, a veritable 
grandee of Spain, a noble, high-thinking, unterrified, 
malice-void soul, in the guise — of all masquerades in the 
world! — of a modem editor. The Anarchist wolf, fly- 
ing from the wolves of plutocracy, throws himself on 
the honor of the man. The man, not being a wolf (nor 
a London editor), and therefore not having enough sym-^ 
pathy with his exploit to be made bloodthirsty by it, 
does not throw him back to the pursuing wolves — ogives 
him, instead, what help he can to escape, and sends him 
off acquainted at last with a force that goes deeper 
than dynamite, though you cannot make so much of it 
for sixpence. That righteous and honorable high human 
deed is not wasted on Europe, let us hope, though it 
benefits the fugitive wolf only for a moment. The 
plutocratic wolves presently smell him out. The fugitive 
shoots the unlucky wolf whose nose is nearest; shoots 
himself; and then convinces the world, by his photo- 
graph, that he was no monstrous freak of reversion to 
the tiger, but a good looking young man with nothing 
abnormal about him except his appalling courage and 
resolution (that is why the terrified shriek Coward at 
him): one to whom murdering a happy young couple 

42 Major Barbara 

on their wedding morning would have been an nnthink* 
ably unnatural abomination under rational and kindly 
human circumstances. 

Then comes the climax of irony and blind stupidity* 
The wolves, balked of their meal of fellow-wolf, turn 
on the man, and proceed to torture him, after their man- 
ner, by imprisonment, for refusing to fasten his teeth 
in the throat of the dynamiter and hold him down until 
they came to finish him. 

Thus, you see, a man may not be a gentleman nowa- 
days even if he wishes to. As to being a Christian, he 
is allowed some latitude in that matter, because, I repeat, 
Christianity has two faces. Popiilar Christianity has 
for its emblem a gibbet, for its chief sensation a san- 
guinary execution after torture, for its central mystery 
an insane vengeance bought off by a trumpery expiation. 
But there is a nobler and profounder Christianity which 
affirms the sacred mystery of Eguality, and forbids the 
glaring futility and folly of vengeance, often politely 
called punishment or justice. The gibbet part of Chris- 
tianity is tolerated. The other is criminal felony. Con- 
noisseurs in irony are well aware of the .fact that the 
only editor in England who denounces punishment as 
rascally wrong, also repudiates Christianity; calls his 
paper The Freethinker; and has been imprisoned for 
two years for blasphemy. 

Sane Conclusions. 

And now I must ask the excited reader not to lose 
his head on one side or the other, but to draw a sane 
moral from these grim absurdities. It is not good sense 
to propose that laws against crime should apply to prin- 
cipals only and not to accessories whose consent, counsel, 
or silence may secure impunity to the principal. If you 
institute punishment as part of the law, you must punish 
people for refusing to punish. If you have a police^ 

First Aid to Critics 48 

part of its duty must be to compel everybody to assist 
\he police. No doubt if your laws are unjust^ and your 
policemen agents of oppression^ the result will be an 
unbearable violation of the private consciences of citi- 
zens. But that cannot be helped: the remedy is, not to 
license everybody to thwart the law if they please, but 
to make laws that will command the public assent^ and 
not to deal cruelly and stupidly with lawbreakers. 
Everybody disapproves of burglars; but the modem bur- 
glar^ when caught and overpowered by a householder^ 
usually appeals^ and often^ let us hope^ with success^ 
to his captor not to deliver him over to the useless hor* 
rors of penal servitude. In other cases the lawbreaker 
escapes because those who could give him up do not 
consider his breach of the law a guilty action. Some- 
times^ even^ private tribunals are formed in opposition 
to the official tribunals ; and these private tribunals em- ^ 
ploy assassins as executioners^ as was done^ for example^ 
by Mahomet before he had established his power offi- 
cially^ and by the Ribbon lodges of Ireland in their 
long struggle with the landlords. Under such circum- 
stances^ the assassin goes free although everybody in 
the district knows who he is and what he has done. 
They do not betray him, partly because they justify 
him exactly as the regular Government justifies iU 
official executioner, and partly because they would them- 
selves be assassinated if they betrayed him: another 
method learnt from the official government. Given a 
tribunal, employing a slayer who has no personal quar- 
rel with the slain; and there is clearly no moral differ- 
ence between official and unofficial killing. 

In short, all men are anarchists with regard to laws ; 
which are against their consciences, either in the pre- 
amble or in the penalty. In London our worst anarch- 
ists are the magistrates, because many of them are so 
old and ignorant that when they are called upon to 
J^i^Tnlt^lgt^r any law that is based on ideas or knowledge 

44 Major Barbara 

less than half a century old^ they disagree with it^ and 
being mere ordinary homebred private Englishmen with- 
out any respect for law in the abstract^ naively set the 
example of violating it. In this instance the man lags 
behind the law; but when the law lags behind the man^ 
he becomes equally an anarchist. When some huge 
change in social conditions, such as the industrial revolu- 
tion of the eigl^teenth and nineteenth centuries, throws 
our legal and Industrial institutions out of date. Anarch- 
ism becomes almost a religion. The whole force of the 
most energetic geniuses of the time in philosophy, 
economics, and art, concentrates itself on demonstrations 
and reminders that morality and law are only conven- 
tions, fallible and continually obsolescing. Tragedies in 
which the heroes are bandits, and comedies in which 
law-abiding and conventionally moral folk are compelled 
to satirize themselves by outraging the conscience of the 
spectators every time tiiey do their duty, appear simul- 
taneously with economic treatises entitled " What is 
Property? Theft!" and with histories of "The Con- 
flict between Religion and Science." 

Now this is not a healthy state of things. The ad* 
vantages of living in society are proportionate, not to 
the freedom of the individual from a code, but to the 
complexity and subtlety of the code he is prepared not 
only to accept but to uphold as a matter of such vital 
importance tiiat a lawbreaker at large is hardly to be 
tolerated on any plea. Such an attitude becomes im- 
possible when tiie only men who can make themselves 
heard and remembered throughout the world spend all 
their energy in raising our gorge against current law, 
current morality, current respectability, and legal 
property. The ordinary man, uneducated in social the- 
ory even when he is schooled in Latin verse, cannot be 
set against all the laws of his country and yet persuaded 
to regard law in the abstract as vitally necessary to 
society. Once he is brought to repudiate the laws and 

First Aid to Critics 45 

institutionfl he knows^ he will repudiate the very con- 
ception of law and the very groundwork of institutions^ 
ridiculing human rights^ extolling brainless methods as 
" historical," and tolerating nothing except pure em- 
piricism in conduct, with dynamite as the basis of politics 
and vivisection as the basis of science. That is hideous ; 
but what is to be done? Here am I, for instance, by 
class a respectable man, by common sense a hater of 
waste and disorder, by intellectual constitution legally 
minded to the verge of pedantry, and by temperament 
apprehensive and economically disposed to the limit of 
old-maidishness; yet I am, and have always been, and 
shall now always be, a revolutionary writer, becausei 
our laws make law impossible; our liberties destroy aUi 
freedom; our property is organized robbery; our mo- j 
rality is an impudent hypocrisy; our wisdom is adminis-y 
tered by inexperienced or malexperienced dupes, our 
power wielded by cowards and weaklings, and our honor 
false in all its points. I am an enemy of the existing 
order^foT- iCPPd . reasons; buf ]EEa^~Hoes7i^^ .my 

attacks any less encouraging or helpful to people who 
are its enemies for bad reasons. The existing order 
may shriek that if I tell the truth about it, some foolish 
person may drive it to become still worse by trying to 
assassinate it. I cannot help that, even if I could see 
what worse it could do than it is already doing. And 
the disadvantage of that worst even from its own point 
of view is that society, with all its prisons and bayonets 
and whips and ostracisms and starvations, is powerless 
in the face of the Anarchist who is prepared to sacrifice 
his own life in the battle with it. Our natural safety 
from the cheap and devastating explosives which every 
Russian student can make, and every Russian grenadier 
has learnt to handle in Manchuria, lies in the fact that 
brave and resolute men, when they are rascals, will not 
risk their skins for the good of humanity, and, when 
they are sympathetic enough to care for humanity, abhor 

46 Major Barbara 

murder^ and never commit it nntil tlieir consciences are 
outraged beyond endurance. The remedy is^ then^ simply 
not to outrage their consciences. 

Do not be afraid that they will not make allowances. 
All men make very large allowances indeed before they 
stake their own lives in a war to the death with society. 
Nobody demands or expects the millennium. But there 
are two things that must be set rights or we shall perish^ 
like Rome^ of soul atrophy disguised as empire. 

The first is^ that the daily ceremony of dividing the 
wealth of the country among its inhabitants shall be so 
conducted that no crumb shall go to any able-bodied 
adults who are not producing by their personal exertions 
not only a full equivalent for what they take^ but a 
surplus sufficient to provide for their superannuation 
and pay back the debt due for their nurture. 

The second is that the deliberate infliction of malicious 
injuries which now goes on under the name of punish- 
ment be abandoned; so that the thief ^ the ruffian^ the 
gambler^ and the beggar, may without inhumanity be 
handed over to the law^ and made to understand that a 
State which is too humane to punish will also be too 
thrifty to waste the life of honest men in watehing or 
restraining dishonest ones. That is why we do not 
imprison dogs. We even take our chance of their first 
bite. But if a dog delights to bark and bite^ it goes 
to the lethal chamber. That seems to me sensible. To 
allow the dog to expiate his bite by a period of torment^ 
and then let him loose in a much more savage condition 
(for the chain makes a dog savage) to bite again and 
expiate again^ having meanwhile spent a great deal of 
human life and happiness in the task of chaining and 
feeding and tormenting him, seems to me idiotic and 
superstitious. Yet that is what we do to men who bark 
and bite and steal. It would be far more sensible to 
put up with their vices^ as we put up with their illnesses^ 
until they give more trouble than they are worthy at 

First Aid to Critics 47 

which point we should^ with many apologies and expres- 
sions of sympathy^ and some generosity in complying 
with their last wishes^ place them in the lethal chamber 
and get rid of them. Under no circumstances should 
tiiey be allowed to expiate their misdeeds by a manu- 
factured penalty^ to subscribe to a charity^ or to com- 
pensate the victims. If there is to be no punishment 
there can be no forgiveness. We shall never have real 
moral responsibility until everyone knows that his deeds 
are irrevocable^ and that his life depends on his useful- 
ness. Hitherto, alas! humanity has never dared face 
these hard facts. We frantically scatter conscience 
money and invent systems of conscience banking, with 
expiatory penalties, atonements, redemptions, salvations, 
hospital subscription lists and what not, to enable us to 
contract-out of the moral code. Not content with the 
old scapegoat and sacrificial lamb, we deify human 
saviors, and pray to miraculous virgin intercessors. We 
attribute mercy to the inexorable; soothe our consciences 
after committing murder by throwing ourselves on the 
bosom of divine love; and shrink even from our own 
gallows because we are forced to admit that it^ at leasts 
is irrevocable — ^as if one hour of imprisonment were not 
as irrevocable as any execution! 

If a man cannot look evil in the face without illusion, 
he will never know what it really is, or combat it effectu- 
ally. The few men who have been able (relatively) to 
do this have been called cynics, and have sometimes had 
an abnormal share of evil in themselves, corresponding 
to the abnormal strength of their minds; but they have 
never done mischief unless they intended to do it. That 
is why great scounHrels have been beneficent rulers 
whilst amiable and privately harmless monarchs have 
ruined their countries by trusting to the hocus-pocus of 
innocence and guilt, reward and punishment, virtuous 
indignation and pardon, instead of standing up to the 
facts without eitiber malice or mercy. Major Barbara 

48 Major Barbara 

stands up to Bill Walker in that way^ with the result 
that the ruffian who cannot get hated^ has to hate him- 
self. To relieve this agony he tries to get punished; 
but the Salvationist whom he tries to provoke is as mer.- 
ciless as Barbara^ and only prays for him. Then he 
tries to pay^ but can get nobody to take his money. His 
doom is the doom of Cain^ who^ failing to find either a 
savior^ a policeman^ or an almoner to help him to pre- 
tend that his brother's blood no longer cried from the 
ground^ had to live and die a murderer. Cain took care 
not to commit another murder, unlike our railway share- 
holders (I ain one) who kill and maim shunters by hun- 
dreds to save the cost of automatic couplings, and make 
atonement by annual subscriptions to deserving charities. 
Had Cain been allowed to pay off his score, he might 
possibly have killed Adam and Eve for the mere sake 
of a second luxurious reconciliation with God after* 
wards. Bodger, you may depend on it, will go on to the 
end of his life poisoning pe<^le with bad whisky, be- 
cause he can always depend on the Salvation Army or 
the Church of England to negotiate a redemption for him 
in consideration of a trifling percentage of his profits. 

There is a third condition too, which must be fulfilled 
before the great teachers of the world will cease to scoff 
at its religions. Creeds must become intellectually hon- 
est. At present there is not a single credible established 
religion in the world. That is perhaps the most stu- 
pendous fact in the whole world-situation. This play 
of mine, Major Barbara, is, I hope, both true and in- 
spired; but whoever says that it all happened, and that 
faith in it and understanding of it consist in believing 
that it is a record of an actual occurrence, is, to speak 
according to Scripture, a fool and a liar, and is hereby 
solemnly denounced and cursed aa such by me, the 
author, to all posterity. 

London^ Jwu 1906. 



It u after dinner on a January night, in the lihrary in 
Lady Britomart Vndershaft's house in Wilton Crescent, 
A large and comfortable settee is in the middle of the 
room, upholstered in dark leather. A person sitting on 
it {it is vacant at present) would have, on his right. 
Lady BritomarVs writing-table, with the lady herself 
busy at it; a smaller writing-table behind him on huf 
left; the door behind him on Lady Britomart's side; and 
a window with a window-seat directly on his left. Near 
the window is an armchair. 

Lady Britomart is a woman of fifty or thereabouts, 
well dressed and yet careless of her dress, well bred 
and quite reckless of her breeding, well mannered and 
yet appallingly outspoken and indifferent to the opinion 
of her interlocutors, amiable and yet peremptory, ar- 
bitrary, and high-tempered to the last bearable degree, 
and withal a very typical managing matron of the upper 
class, treated as a naughty chUd until she grew into a 
scolding mother, and finally settling down with plenty 
of practical ability and worldly experience, limited in 
the oddest way wUh domestic and class limitations, con- 
ceiving the universe exactly as if it were a large house 
in Wilton Crescent, though handling her comer of it 
very effectively on that assumption, and being quite en- 
lightened and liberal as to the books in the library, the 
pictures on the waUs, the music in the portfolios, and 
the articles in 'the papers. 

Her son, Stephen, comes in. He is a gravely correct 
young man under 25, taking himself very seriously, but 


50 Major Barbara Act I 

still in some awe of his mother^ from childish habit and 
bachelor shyness rather than from any weakness of char- 

Stephen. Whats the matter? 

Lady Britomart. Presently, Stephen. 

(^Stephen submissively walks to the settee and sits 
down. He takes up The Speaker,) 

Lady Britomart. Dont begin to read, Stephen. I 
shall require all your attention. 

Stephen. It was only while I was waiting — 

Lady Britomart. Dont make excuses, Stephen. (He 
puts down The Speaker.) Now! (She finishes her 
writing; rises; and comes to the settee.) I. have not 
kept you waiting very long,. I think. 

Stephen. Not at all, mother. 

Lady Britomart. Bring m^ my cushion. (He takes 
the cushion from the chair at the desk and arranges it 
for her as she sits down on the settee.) Sit down. (He 
sits down and fingers his tie nervously.) Dont fiddle 
with your tie, Stephen: there is nothing the matter 
with it. 

Stephen. I beg your pardon. (He fiddles with his 
watch chain instead.) 

Lady Britomart. Now are you attending to me, 

Stephen. Of course, mother. 

Lady Britomart. No: it's not of course. I want 
something much more than your everyday matter-of- 
course attention. I am going to speak to you very seri-4 
ously, Stephen. I wish you would let that chain alone. 

Stephen (hastily relinquishing the chain). Have I 
done anything to annoy you, mother.^ If so, it was quite 
unintentional. ^ 

Lady Britomart (astonished). Nonsense! (With 
some remorse.) My poor boy^ did you think I was 
angry with you? 

Act I Major Barbara 51 

Stephen. What is it^ then^ mother? Yon are making 
me very mieasy. 

Lady Britomart {squaring herself at him rather ag- 
gressively), Stephen: may I ask how soon you intend 
to realize that you are a grown-up man^ and that I am 
only a woman? 

Stephen {amazed). Only a — 

Lady Britomart. Dont repeat my words^ please: it 
is a most aggravating habit. You must learn to face 
life seriously^ Stephen. I really cannot bear the whole 
burden of our family affairs any longer. You must 
advise me: you must assume the responsibility. 

Stephen. I ! 

Lady Britomart. Yes, you, of course. You were 24 
last June. Youve been at Harrow and Cambridge. 
Youve been to India and Japan. You must know a lot 
of things, now; unless you have wasted your time most 
scandalously. Well, advise me. 

Stephen {much perplexed). You know I have never 
interfered in the household — 

Lady Britomart. 'No: I should think not. I dont 
want you to order the dinner. 

Stephen. I mean in our family affairs. 

Lady Britomart. Well, you must interfere now ; for 
they are getting quite beyond me. 

Stephen {trouM^^^^ I have thought sometimes that 
perhaps I oughlyf buf really, mother, I know so little 
about them; and what I do know is so painful — ^it is 
sa impossible to mention some things te you — {he stops, 

Lady Britomart. I suppose you mean your father. 

Stephen {almost inaudtbly). Yes. 

Lady Britomart. My -dear: w^ cant go ^n all our 
lives not mentioning him. Of course you were quite 
ri^t not to open the subject until I' asked you to; but 
yon are old enough now to be taken into my confidence, 
and to help me to deal with him about the girls. 

52 Major Barbara Act I 

Stbphen. But the girls are all right. They are ien- 

Lady Britomart (complacently). Yes: I have made 
a verv good match for Sarah. Charles Lomax will be 
a mimonaire at 35. But that is ten years ahead; and 
in the meantime his trustees cannot under the terms of 
his father's will allow him more than <£800 a year. ^"^^ 

Stephen. But the will says also that if he increases 
his income by his own exertions^ they may double the 
increase. ' 

Lady Britomart. Charles Lomax's exertions are 
much more likely to decrease his income than to increase 
it. Sarah will have to find at least another <£800 a year 
for the next ten years ^ig^d even then they will be as 
poor as church nybe^t^^And what about Barbara? I 
thought Barbara was going to make the most brilliant 
career of all of you. And what does she do ? Joins the 
Salvation Army; discharges her maid; lives on a pound 
a week; and walks in one evening with a professor of 
Greek whom she has picked up in the street, and who 
pretends to be a Salvationist^ and actually plays the 
big drum for her in public because he has f adlen head 
over ears in love with het. 

Stephen. I was certainly rather taken aback when 
I heard they were engaged. Cusins is a very nice fel- tc;^ 
low, certainly: nobody would ever guess that he wa^y 
bom in Australia; but — 

Lady Britomart. Oh, Adolphus Cusins will make 
a, very good husband. After all, nobody can say a word^ 
against Greek: it stamps a man at once as an educated 
gentleman. And my family, thank Heaven, is not a 
pig-headed Tory one. We are Whigs, and believe in 
liberty. Let snobbish people say what they please: 
.j^ Barbara shall marry, not the man they* like, but the 
( man I like. 

Stephen. Of course I was thinking only of his 
income. However, he is not likely to be extravagant. 

Act I Major Barbara 53 

Ladt Britomart. Dont be too sure of that^ Stephen. 
I know your quiet^ simple^ refined^ poetic people like 
Adolphus — quite content with the best of everything!-^ 
They cost more than your extravagant people, who are 
always as mean as they are second rate. No: Barbara 
will need at least £2000 a year. You see it means two 
additional households. Besides^ my dear^ you must 
marry soon. I, dont approve of the present- fashion of 
philandering bachelors and late marriages; and I am 
trying to arrange something for you. 

Stephen. It's very good of you, mother; but per- 
haps I -had better arrange that for myself. 

Lady Britomart. Nonsense ! you are much too young 
to begin matchmaking: you would be taken in J^ some 
pretty little nobody. Of course I dont meaiit^that you 
are not to be consulted: you know that as well as I do. 
(Stephen closes his lips and is sUent) Now dont sulk, 

Stephen. I am not sulking, mother. What has all 
tlus got to do with — ^with — wiiti my father? 

Lady Britomart. My dear Stephen: where is the 
money to come from? It is easy enough for you and 
the other children to live on my income as long as we 
are in the same house; but I cant keep four families in 
four separate houses. You know how poor my father 
is: he has bargh |^ even thousand a year now; and really, 
if he were m^Vne Earl of .Stevenage, he would have to 
give up society. He can do nothing for us. He says, 
naturally enough, that it is absurd that he should be 
asked to provide for the children of a man who is rolling 
in money. You see, Stephen, your father must be fabu- 
lously wealthy, beciause there is always a war going on 

Stephen. You need not remind me of that, mother. 
I have hardly ever opened a newspaper in my life with- 
out seeing our. name in. it. The* Undershaft torpedo! 
The Undershaft quick firers! The Undershaft ten inch! 

64 Major Barbara ^ , / Act I 

the Undershaft disappearing rampart gaQ# the Under- 
shaft submarine! and now the Undershaft aerial battle- 
ship! At Harrow they called me the Woolwich Infant. 
At Cambridge it was llie same. . A little brute at King's 
who was always trying to get up revivals, spoilt my 
Bible — ^your first birthday present to me — ^by writing 
under my name, " Son and heir to Undershaft and 
Lazarus, Death and Destruction Dealers: address, 
Christendom and Judea." But that was not so bad as 
the way I was kowtowed to everywhere because my 
father was making millions by selling cannons. 

Lady Britomart. It is not only the cannons, but the 
war loans that Lazarus arranges under cover of giving 
credit for the cannons. You know, Stephen, it's per- 
fectly scandalous. Those two men, Andrew Undershaft 
and Lazarus, positively have Europe under their thumbs. 
That is why your father is able to behave as he does. 
He is above the law. Do you think Bismarck or Glad- 
stone or Disraeli could have openly defied every social 
and moral obligation all their lives as your father has? 
They simply wouldnt have dared. I asked Gladstone to 
take it up. I asked The Times to take it up. I asked 
the Lord Chamberlain to take it up. But it was just 
like asking them to declare war on i^e Sultan. They 
wouldnt. They said they couldnt touch him. I be- 
lieve they were afraid. * 

Stephen. What could they do? He does not actu- 
ally break the law. 

Lady Britomart. Not break the law ! He is always 
breaking the law. He broke the law when he was bom : 
his parents were not married. 

Stephen. Mother! Is that true? 

Lady Britomart. Of course it's true: that was why 
we separated. 

Stephen. He married without letting you know this ! 

Lady Britomart (rather taken ab€u:k by this infer* 
ence). Oh no. To do Andrew justice, that was not the 

Act I Major Barbara 55 

sort of thing he did. Besides^ you know the Undershaf t 
motto: Unashamed. Everybody knew. 

Stephen. But you said that was why you separated. 

Lady Britomart. Yes^ because he was not content 
with being a foundling himself: he wanted to disinherit 
you for another foundling. That was what I couldnt 

Stephen {ashamed). Do you mean for — for — for — 

Lady Britomart. Dont stammer^ Stephen. Speak 

Stephen. But this so frightful to me^ mother. To 
have to speak to you about such things ! 

Lady Britomart. It's not pleasant for me, either, 
especially if you are still so childish that you must make 
it worse by a display of embarrassment. It is only in the 
middle classes, Stephen, that people get into a state of 
dumb helpless horror when they find that there are 
wicked people in the world. In our class, we have to 
decide what is to be done with wicked people; and noth- 
ing should disturb our self-possession. Now ask your 
question properly. 

Stephen. Mother: you have no consideration for me. 
For Heaven's sake either treat me as a child, as you 
always do, and tell me nothing at all; or tell me every- 
thing and let me take it as best I can. 

Lady Britomart. Treat you as a child! What do 
jou mean? It is most unkind and ^ ungrateful of you 
to say such a thing. You know I have never 'treated any 
of you as children. I have always made you my com- 
panions and friends, and allowed you perfect freedom 
to do and say whatever you liked, so long as you liked 
what I could approve of. 

Stephen (desperately), I daresay we have been the 
very imperfect children of a very perfect mother; but 
I do beg you to let me alone for once, and tell me about 
this horrible business of my father wanting to set me 
aside for another son. 



56 Major Barbara Act I 

Lady Britomart (amased). Another son! I never 
said anything of the kind. I never dreamt of such a 
thing. This is what comes of interrupting me. 

Stephen. But you said — 

Lady Britomart {cutting him short). Now be a 
good boy, Stephen, and listen to me patiently. The 
Undershafts are descended from a foundling in the 
parish of St. Andrew Undershaf t in the city. That was 
long ago, in the reign of James the First. Well, this 
foundling was adopted by an armorer and gun-maker. 
In the course of ^me the foundling succeeded to the 
business; and from some notion of gratitude, or some 
vow or something, he adopted another foundling, and 
left the business to him. And that foundling did the 
^same. Ever since that, the cannon business has always 
been left to an adopted foundling named Andrew Un> 
. dershaf t. 

Stephen. But did they never marry? Were there 
no legitimate sons? 

Lady Britomart. Oh yes: they married just as your 
father did; and they were rich enough to buy land for 
their own children and leave them well provided for. 
But they always adopted and trained some foundling to 
succeed them in the business; and of course they always 
quarrelled with their wives furiously over it. Your 
father was adopted in that way; and he pretends to 
consider himself bound to keep up the tradition and 
adopt somebody to leave the business to. Of course I 
was not going to stand that. There may have been some 
reason for it when the Undershafts could only marry 
women in their own class, whose sons were not fit to 
govern great estates. But there could be no excuse for 
passing over my son. 

Stephen (dubiously). I am afraid I should make a 
poor hand of managing a cannon foundry. 

Lady Britomart. Nonsense! you could easily get a 
manager and pay him a salary. 

Act I Major Barbara 57 

Stephen. My father evidently had no great opinion 
of my capacity. 

Ladt BRrroMART. Stuff, child! yon were only a baby: .^ 
it had nothing to do with your capacity. Andrew did I 
it on principle, just as he did every perverse and wicked j 
thing on principle. When my father remonstrated, 
Andrew actually told him to his face that history tells 
us of only two successful institutions: one the Under-*" 
shaft firm, and the other the Roman Empii'e under the 
Antonines. That was because the Antonine emperors all 
adopted their successors. Such rubbish! The Steven- 
ages are as good as the Antonines, I hope; and you are 
a Stevenage. But that was Andrew all over. There 
you have the man! Always clever and unanswerable 
when he was defending nonsense and wickedness: al- 
ways awkward and sullen when he had to behave sensibly 
and decently! 

Stephen. Then it was on my account that your home 
life was broken up, mother. I am sorry. 

Lady Britomart. Well, dear, there were other dif- 
ferences. I reaUy cannot bear an immoral man. lam 
not a Pharisee, I hope; and I should not have minded 
his merely doing wrong things : we are none of us 
perfect. But your father didnt exactly do wrong 
things: he said them and thought them: that was what 
was so dreadfuL He really had a sort of religion of 
wrongness. Just as one doesnt mind men practising 
immorality so long as they own that they are in the 
wrong by preaching morality; so I couldnt forgive An- 
drew for preaching immorality while he practised mo- 
rality. You would all have grown up without prin- 
ciples, without any knowledge of right and wrong, if 
he had been in the house. You know, my dear, your 
father was a very attractive man in some ways. Chil- 
dren did not dislike him; and he took advantage of it 
to put the wickedest ideas into their heads, and make 
them qidte unmanageable. I did not dislike him myself: 

58 Major Barbara Act I 

very far from it; but nothing can bridge over moral 
disagreement. ^^ . ' < 

Stephen. All this simply bewilders me^ mother. 
People may differ about matters of opinion, -^ even 
about religion; but how can they differ about rigiit; and 
wrong? Right is right; and wrong is wrong; and if 
a man cannot distinguish them properly, he is either a 
fool or a rascal: thats all. 

Lady Britomart (touched), Thats my own boy (she 
pats his cheeky I Your father never could answer that: 
he used to ^augh and get out of it under cover of some 
affectionate nonsense. And now that you understand the 
situation, what do you advise me to do? 

Stephen. Well, what can you do? 

Lady Britomart. I must get the money somehow. 

Stephen. We cannot take money from him. I had 
rather go and live in some cheap place like Bedford 
Square or even Hampstead than take a farthing of his 

Lady Britomart. But after all, Stephen, our present 
income comes* from Andrew. 

Stephen (shocked). I never knew that. 

Lady Britomart. Well, you surely didnt suppose 
your grandfather had anything to give me. The Steven- 
ages could not do everything for you. We gave you 
social position. Andrew had to contribute some- 
thing. He had a very good bargain, I think. 

Stephen (bitterly). We are utterly dependent on 
him and his cannons, then? 

Lady Britomart. Certainly not: the money is set- 
tled. But he provided it. So you see it is not a question 
of taking money from him or not: it is simply a question 
of how much. I dont want any more for myself. 

Stephen. Nor do I. 

Lady Britomart. But Sarah does ; and Barbara does. 
That is, Charles Lomax and AdoJphus Cusins will cost 
them more. So I must put my pride in my pocket and 

Act I Major Barbara 59 

ask for it, I soppote. That is jour advice^ Stephen^ is 
it not? 

Stephen. No. 

Ladt Britomart (sharply). Stephen! 

Stephen. Of course if 70a are determined — 

Ladt BRrroHA&T. I am not determined: I ask yonr 
advice; and I am waiting for it. I will not have all the 
responsibility thrown on my shoulders. 

Stephen {ohsiinaielif). I would die sooner than ask 
him for anotiier penny. 

Ladt BRrroUART (resignedly). You mean that / 
must ask him. Very well^ Stephen: it shall be as you 
wish. You will be glad to know that your grandfather 
concurs. But he thinks I ought to ask Andrew to come 
here and see the girls. After all^ he must have some 
natural affection for them. 

Stephen. Ask him here!!! 

Ladt BarroMART. Do not repeat my words, 
Stephen. Where else can I ask him? 

Stephen. I never expected you to ask him at all. 

Ladt Britomai^t. Now dont tease^ Stephen. Come! 
you see that it is necessary that he should pay us a visit, 
dont you? 

Stephen (reluctantly). I suppose so, if the girls 
cannot do without his money. 

Ladt Britomart. Thank you, Stephen: I knew you 
would give me the right advice when it was properly 
explained to you. I have asked your father to come 
this evening. (Stephen hounds from his seat.) Dont 
jump, Stephen: it fidgets me. 

Stephen (in utter consternation). Do you mean to 
say that my father is coming here to-night — ^that he 
may be here at any moment? 

Ladt Britomart (looking at her watch). I said nine. 
(He gasps. She rises.) Ring the bell^ please. (Stephen 
goes to the smaller writing table; presses a button on 
it; and sits at it tvith his elbows on the table and his 

60 Major Barbara Act I 

head in hii hands, outwitted and overwhelmed.) It is 
ten minutes to nine yet; and I have to prepare the girls. 
I asked Charles Lomaz and Adolphns to dinner on pur> 
pose that they might be here. Andrew had better see 
them in case he should cherish any delusions as to their 
being capable of supporting their wives. (The butler 
enters: Lady Britomart goes behind the settee to speak 
to him.) Morrison: go up to the drawingroom and tell 
everybody to come down here at once. {Morrison with- 
draws. Lady Britomart turns to Stephen.) Now re- 
member^ Stephen : I shall need all your countenance and 
authority. (He rises and tries to recover some vestige 
of these attributes.) Give me a chair^ dear. (He pushes 
a chair forward from the wall to where she stands, near 
the smaUer writing table. She sits down; and he goes 
to the armchair, into which he throws himself.) I dont 
know how Barbara will take it. - Ever since they made 
her a major in the Salvation Army she has developed a 
propensity to have her own way and order people about 
1 which quite cows me sometimes. It's not ladylike: I'm 
]8ure I dont know where she picked it up. Anyhow, Bar- 
bara shant bully me; but still it's just as well that 
your father should be here before she has time to refuse 
to meet him or make a fuss. Dont look nervoqs, Stephen ; 
it will only encourage Barbara to make difficulties. I 
am nervous enough^ goodness knows; but I dont shew it. 
Sarah and Barbara come in with their respective young 
men, Charles Lomax and Adolphus Cusins. Sarah is 
slender, bored, and mundane. Barbara is robuster, joU 
lier, much more energetic. Sarah is fashionably dressed: 
Barbara is in Salvation Army uniform. Lomax, a young 
man about town, is like many other young men about 
town. He is afflicted with a frivolous sense of humor 
which plunges him at the most inopportune moments 
into paroxysms of imperfectly suppressed laughter. 
Cusins is a spectacled student, slight, thin haired, and 
sweet voiced, with a more complex form of Lomax^s 

Act I Major Barbara 61 

compldini. His seriie of humor is intellectiidl and subtle, 
and is complicated by an appalling temper. The life- 
long struggle of a benevolent temperament and a A%4 
conscience against impulses of inhuman ridicule afia 
fierce impatience has set up a chronic strain which has 
visibly wrecked his constitution. He is a most implacable, 
determined, tenacious, intolerant person who by mere 
force of character presents himself as — and indeed actu- 
ally is — considerate, gentle, explanatory, even mild and 
apologetic, capable possibly of murder, but not of cru- 
elty or coarseness* By the operation of some instinct 
which is not merciful enough to blind him with the 
illusions of love, he is obstinately bent on marrying Bar- 
bara* Lomax likes Sarah and thinks it will be rather a 
lark to marry her. Consequently he has not' attempted 
to resist Lady Britomarfs arrangements ta that end. 

All four look as if they had been havin"^ a good deal 
of fun in the drawingroom. The girls enter first, leav- 
ing the swains outside. Sarah comes to the settee. Bar- 
bara comes in after her and stops at the door. 
^ BARBAR4.y Are Cholly and Dolly to come in? 

Ladt Britomart {forcibly). Barbara: I will not 
have Charles called Cholly: the vulgarity of it positively 
makes me ilL 

Barbara. It's all rights mother. Cholly is quite cor- 
rect nowadays. Are they to come in? 

Lady Britomart. Yes^ if they will behave them- 

Barbara (through the door). Come in^ DoUy^ and 
behave yourself. 

Barbara comes to her mother's writing table. Cusins 
enters smiling, and wanders towards Lady Britomart. 

Sarah (calling). Come in, Cholly. (Lomax enters, 
controlling his features very imperfectly, and places 
himself vaguely between Sarah and Barbara.) 

Lady Britomart (peremptorily). Sit down, all of 
you. (They sit Cusins crosses to the window and seats 


62 Major Barbara Act I 

himself there. Lomax takes a chair, Barbara sits at 
the writing table and Sarah an the settee.) I dont in 
tbe least know what you are laughing at^ Adolphus. I 
lun surprised at jou^ though I expected nothing better 
from Charles Lomax. 

CusiNs (m a remarkably gentle voice). Barbara has 
been trying to teach me the West Ham Salvation March. 

Lady Britomart. I see nothing to laugh at in that; 
nor should you if you are really converted. 

CusiNs (sweetly). You were not present. It was 
really funny, I believe. 

Lomax. Bipping. 

Lady Britomart« Be quiet, Charles. Now listen to 
me, children. Your father is coming here this evening. 
{General stupefaction,) 

Lomax (remonstrating). Oh I say! 

Lady Britomart. You are not called on to say any- 
thing, Charles. 

Sarah. Are you serious, mother? 

Lady Britomart. Of course I am serious. It is on 
your account, Sarah, and also on Charles's. {Silence. 
Charles looks painfully unworthy.) I hope you are not 
going to object, Barbara. 

Barbara. I! why should I? My father has a soul 
to be saved like anybody else. Hes quite welcome as 
far as I am concerned. 

Lomax {still remonstrant). But really^ dont you 
know! Oh I say! 

Lady Britomart {frigidly). What do you wish to 
convey, Charles? 

Lomax. Well, you must admit that this is a bit thick. 

Lady Britomart {turning mith ominous suavity to 
Cusins). Adolphus: you are a professor of Greek. Can 
you translate Charles Lomax's remarks into reputable 
English for us? 

Cusins {cautiously). If I may say so. Lady Brit, I 
think Charles has ratiier happil;^ expressed what we all 

Act I Major Barbara 68 

feel. Horner^ speaking of Autolycus^ uses tbe same 
phrase, ttvkivov Sofwv IKBuv means a bit thick. 

LoMAX {handsomely). Not that I mind^ 70a know^ 
if Sarah dont. 

Lady Britomart (crushingly). Thank you. Have 
I your permission^ Adolphus^ to invite my own hus- 
band to my own house .^ 

CusiNs {gallantly). You have my unhesitating sup- 
port in everything you do. 

Lady Britomart. Sarah: have you nothing to say? 

Sarah. Do you mean that he is coming regularly to 
live here.^ 

Lady Britomart. Certainly not. The spare room 
is ready for him if he likes to stay for a day or two 
and see a little more of you; but there are limits. 

Sarah. Well^ he cant eat us^ I suppose. / dont mind. 

LoMAX {chuckling). I wonder how the old man will 
take it. 

Lady Britomart. Much as ilie old woman will^ no 
doubt^ Charles. 

LoMAx {abashed). I didnt mean — ^at least — 

Lady Britomart. You didnt thint^ Charles , .iftu 
never do; and the result is, you never mean any tljj^gr- 
"And now please attend to me, children. Your father 
will be quite a stranger to us. 

Lomax. I suppose he hasnt seen Sarah since she was 
a little kid. 

Lady Britomart. Not since she was a little kid, 
Charles, as you express it with that elegance of diction 
and refinement of thought that seem never to desert you. 
Accordingly — er — {impatiently) Now I have forgot- 
ten what I was going to say. That comes of your pro- 
voking me to be sarcastic, Charles. Adolphus: will you 
kindly tell me where I was. 

CusiNs {sweetly). You were saying that as Mr. 
Undershaft has not seen his children since they were 
babies, he will form his opinion of the way you have 

64 Major Barbara Act I 

brought them up from their behavior to-night^ and that 
therefore you wish us all to be particularly careful to 
conduct ourselves well^ especially Charles. 

LoMA2. Look here: Lady Brit didnt say that. 

Lady Britomart (vehementli^). I did^ Charles. 
Adolphus's recollection is perfectly correct. It is most 
important that you should be good; and I do beg you 
for once not to pair off into opposite comers and giggle 
and whisper while I am speaking to your father. 

Barbara. All rights mother. We'll do you credit. 

Lady Britomart. Bemember^ Charles^ that Sarah 
will want to feel proud of you instead of ashamed of 

LoMAz. Oh I say! iheres nothing to be exactly proud 
of, dont you know. 

Lady Britomart^ Well, try and look as if there was. 

Morrison, pale and dismayed, breaks into the room in 
unconcealed disorder, 
- -Morrison. Might I speak a word to you, my lady? 

LADr^BRiTOMA]^. Nonsense! Shew him up. 

MoRRi^N. Yea, my lady. (He goes.) 

LoMAZ. ^ Pbes Morrison know who it is? 

Lady BjztrojMiART. Of course. Morrison has always 
been witb us. n 

LoMAx. It must be a regular corker for him, dont 
you know. 

Lady Britomart. Is this a moment to get on my 
nerves, Charles, with your outrageous expressions? 

LoMAZ. But this is something out of the ordinary^ 
really — 

Morrison (at the door). The — er — ^Mr. Undershaft. 
{He retreats in confusion.) 

Andrew Undershaft comes in. All rise. Lady BriUn 
mart meets him in the middle of the room behind the 

Andrew is, on the surface, a stoutish, easygoing elderly 
man, with kindly patient manners, and an engaging sim^ 

Act I Major Barbara 6^4^,;?*^" 

plicity of character. Bui he has a watchful, deliberate, t S ./^^ . .^ 
waiting, listening face, and formidable reserves of if* ''p}^^ 
power, both bodUy and mental, in his capacious chest\ hJ^. 
and long head. His gentleness is partly that of a strong \^ 
man who has learnt by experience that his natural \^ ^;^ 
grip hurts ordinary people unless he handles them very ^'V i>./ 

carefully, and partly the mellowness of age and success, ^.-* 

He is also a little shy in his present very delicate sit^ ■-'•■ r^j^^* 
nation. r 

Lady Britomart. Good evenings Andrew. \ ■ > 

-^ Undershaft. How d'ye do, my dear. ^.:^ ,^., 

Lady Britomart. You look a good deal older. * \^' 

» \J NDTOtsHAFT (apologetically), I a m somewhat older. v. 

{With a touch of courtship,) Tipp. hag fitood fitjll ^^^^ 

^Lady Britomart (promptly^. Rubbish! This is 
your family. 

^. ViUDKRSHAFT (surprised). Is it so large? I am sorry 
to say my memory is failing very badly in some things. 
(He offers his hand with paternal kindness to Lomax.) 

LoMAZ (jerkily shaking his hand). Ahdedoo. 
^ Undershaft. I can see you are my eldest, I am 
very glad to meet you again^ my boy. 

LoMAz (remonstrating). No but look here dont you 
know — (Overcome.) Oh I say! 

Lady Britomart (recovering from momentary speech- 
lessness). Andrew: do you mean to say that you dont 
remember how many children you have? 

Undershaft. Well, I am afraid I — . They have 
grown so much — er. Am I making any ridiculous mis- 
take? I may as well confess: I recollect only one son. 
But so many things have happened since, of course — 

Lady Britomart (decisively). Andrew: you are 
talking nonsense. Of course you have only one son. 
^.- Undershaft. Perhaps you will be good enough to 
introduce me, my dear. 


66 Major Barbara Act I 

Lady Britomart. That is Charles Lomax^ who is en- 
gaged to Sarah. 
^ UxDERSHAFT. My dear sir, I beg your pardon. 

LoMAX. Notatall. Delighted, I assure you. 

Lady Britomart. This is Stephen. 
^ Undershaft (bowing). Happy to make your ac- 
quaintance, Mr. Stephen. Then (going to Cusins) you 
must be my son. (Taking Cusins' hands in his.) How 
are you, my yoimg friend? (Ta Lady Britomart,) He 
is very like you, my love. 

Cusins. You flatter me, Mr. Undershaft. My name 
is Cusins: engaged to Barbara. (Very explicitly,) That 
is Major Barbara Undershaft, of the Salvation Army. 
That is Sarah, your second daughter. This is Stephen 
Undershaft, your son. 

Undershaft. My dear Stephen, I b e g your pardon. 

Stephen. Not at «1L 

Undershaft. Mr. Cusins: I am much indebted to 
you for explaining so precisely. (Turning to Sarah,) 
Barbara, my dear — 

Sarah (prompting him), Sarah. 
„i» Undershaft. Sarah, of course. (They shake hands. 
He goes over to Barbara.) Barbara — I am right this 
time, I hope. 

Barbara. Quite right. (They shake hands,) 

Lady Britomart (resuming command). Sit down, 
all of you. Sit down, Andrew. (She comes forward 
and sits on the settee, Cusins also brings his chair for- 
ward on her left, Barbara and Stephen resume their 
seats, Lomax gives his chair to Sarah and goes for 
' Undershaft. Thank you, my love. 

Lomax (conversationally, as he brings a chair forward 
between the writing table and the settee, and offers it to 
Undershaft). Takes you some time to find out exactly 
where you are, dont it.^ 

Undershaft (accepting the chair). That is not what 


Act I Major Barbara 67 

embarrasses me^ Mr. Lomax. My difficulty is that if I 
play the part of a father, I shall produce the effect of 
an intrusive stranger; and if I play the part of a dis- 
creet stranger, I may appear a callous father. 

Lady Britomart. There is no need for you to play 
any part at all, Andrew. You had much better be sin- 
cere and natural. 
^ Undershaft {submissively). Yes, my dear: I dare- 
say that will be best. {Making himself comfortable,) 
Well, here I am. Now what can I do for you all? 

Lady Britomart. You need not do anything, An- 
drew. You are one of the family. You can sit with 
us and enjoy yourself. 

Lomax's too long suppressed mirth explodes in ago- 
nized neighings. 

Lady Britomart (outraged). Charles Lomax: if you 
can behave yourself, behave yourself. If not, leave the 

Lomax. I'm awfully sorry, Lady Brit; but really, 
you know, upon my soul! {He sits on the settee be- 
tween Lady Britomart and Undershaft, quite overcome,) 

Barbara. Why dont you laugh if you want to, 
Cholly? It's good for your inside. 

Lady Britomart. Barbara: you have had the educa- 
tion of a lady. Please let your father see that; and 
dont talk like a street girl. 
^ Undershaft. Never mind me, my dear. As you 
know, I am not a gentleman ; and I was never educated. 

Lomax {encouragingly). Nobody 'd know it, I assure 
you. You look all right, you know. 

CusiNs. Let me advise you to study Greek, Mr. Un-^ 
dershaft. Greek scholars are privileged men. Few of 
them know Greek; and none of them know anything 
else; but their position is unchallengeable. Other lan- 
guages are the qualifications of waiters and commercial 
travellers: Greek is to a man of position what the hall- 
mark is to silver. 

68 Major Barbara Act I 

Barbara. Dolly: dont be insincere. Cholly: fetch 
your concertina and play something for us. 

LoMAX {doubtfully to Undershaft), Perhaps that 
sort of thing isnt in your line^ eh? 
« Undershaft. I am particularly fond of music. 

LoMAX {delighted). Are you? Then 111 get it. {He 
goes upstairs for the instrument.) 
* Undershaft. Do you play, Barbara? 

Barbara. Only the tambourine. But Cholly's teach- 
ing me the concertina. 
^ Undershaft. Is ChoUy also a member of the Salva- 
tion Army? 

Barbara. No: he says it's bad form to be a dis- 
sentei;. But I dont despair of ChoUy. I made him 
Come yesterday to a meeting at the dock gates, and took 
the collection in his hat. 

Lady Britomart. It is not my doing, Andrew. Bar- 
bara is old enough to take her own way. She has no 
father to advise her. 

Barbara. Oh yes she has. There are no orphans in 
the Salvation Army. 
^ Undershaft. Your father there has a irreat many 
chUdren and plenty of experience, eh ? ^ 

Barbara {looking at him with quick interest and nod- 
ding). Just so. How did you come to imderstand that? 
{Lomax is heard at the door trying the concertina,) 

Lady Britomart. Come in, Charles. Play us some- 
thing at once. 

LoMAz. Righto ! {He sits down in his former place, 
and preludes,) 

Undershaft. One moment, Mr. Lomax. I am rather 
interested in the Salvation Army. Its motto might be 
my own: Blood and Fire. 

Lomax {shocked)^ But not your sort of blood and 
fire, you know. 

Undershaft. My sort of blood cleanses: my sort of 
fire purifies. 


Act I Major Barbara 69 

Barbara. So do onrs. Come down to-morrow to 
my shelter — the West Ham shelter — and see what we're 
doing. We're gomg to march to a great meeting in the 
Assembly Hall at Mile End. Come and see the shelter 
and then march with us: it will do you a lot of good. 
Can you play anything? 
^ Undershaft. In my youth I earned pennies^ and 
even shillings occasionally^ in the streets and In public 
house parlors by my natural talent for stepdancing. 
Later on^ I became a member of the Undershaft orches- 
tral society^ and performed passably on the tenor trom- 

Lomax (icandalised). Oh I say! 

Barbara. Many a sinner has played himself into 
heaven on the trombone^ thanks to the Army. 

LoMAZ {to Barbara, still rather shocked). Yes; but 
what about the cannon business, dont you know? (To 
Undershaft) Getting into heaven is not exactly in 
your line, is it? , 

Lady Britomart. Charles!!! 

LoMAx. Well; but it stands to reason, dont it? ^The 
cannon business may be necessary and all that: we cant 
get on without cannons ; but it isnt right, you know.^ On 
file other hand, there may be a certain amount ofiosh 
about the Salvation Army — I belong to the Established 
Church myself — but stiU you cant deny that it's re- 
ligion; and you cant go against religion, can you? At 
least unless youre downright inmioral, dont you 
r Undershaft. You hardly appreciate my position, 
Mr. Lomax — 

Lomax (hastily). I'm not saying anything against 
you personally, you know. 

* Undershaft. Quite so, quite so. But consider for a 
moment. Here I am, a manufacturer of mutilation and 

* murder. I find myself in a specially amiable humor 
just now because, this morning, down at the foimdry. 

Major Barbara Act I 

we blew twenty-seven dummy soldiers into fragments 
with a gmi which formerly destroyed only thirteen. 

LoMAX {leniently). Well, the more destructive war 
becomes, the sooner it will be abolished, eh? 
♦► Undershaft. Not at all. The more destructive war 
becomes the more fascinating we find it. No, Mr. Lo- 
max: I am obliged to you for making the usual excuse 
for my trade; but I am not ashamed of it. I am not 
one of those men who keep their morals and their busi- 
ness in watertight compartments. All the spare money 
my trade rivals spend on hospitals, cathedrals and other 
receptacles for conscience money, I devote to experi- 
ments and researches in improved methods of destroying 
life and property. I have always done so; and I always 
shall. Therefore ^your Christmas card moralities of 
peace on earth and goodwill among men are of no use 
to me., Your Christianity, which enjoins you to resist 
not evil, and to turn the other cheek, would make me a 
bankrupt. M y morality — m y religion — ^must have a 
place for cannons and torpedoes in it.,^ 
/ Stephen {coldly — almost sullenly). You speak as if 
i there were half a dozen moralities and religions to choose 
V from, instead ^- one true morality and one true religion. 
^ UxDERSHAFT. For mc there is only one true mo- 
rality ; but it might not fit you, as you do not manu- 
facture aerial battleships, ^here is only one true 
morality for every man ; but every man has not the same 
true morality.) 

LoMAx {overtaxed). Would you mind saying that 
again? I didnt quite follow it. 

CusiNs. It's quite simple. As Euripides says, one 
man's meat is another man's poison morally as well as 
, Undershaft. Precisely. 

LoMAX. Oh; that. Yes, yes, year TPruc. True. 

Stephen. In other words, some men are honest and 
some are scoundrels. 

Act I Major Barbara 71 

Barbara. Bosh. There are no scoundrels. 
i» Undershaft. Indeed? Are there any good men? 

Barbara. No. Not one. There are neither good 
men nor scomidrels: there are just children of one 
Father; and the sooner they stop calling one another 
names the better. You neednt talk to me : I know them. 
Ive had scores of them through my hands: scoundrels^ 
criminals^ infidels^ philanthropists^ missionaries^ county 
councillors, all sorts. Theyre all just the same sort of 
sinner; and theres the same salvation ready for them all. 
m Undershaft. May I ask have you ever saved a maker 
of cannons? 

Barbara. No. Will you let me try? 

Undershaft. Well, I will make a bargain with you. 
If I go to see you to-morrow in your Salvation Shelter, 
will you come the day after to see me in my cannon 

Barbara. Take care. Jt may end in your giving up 
the cannons for the sake of the Salvation Army. 
p Undershaft. Are you sure it will not end in your 
giving up the Salvation Army for the sake of the 
cannons ? 

Baabara. I will take my chance of that. 
^ Undershaft. And I will take my chance of the 
other. " {They shake hands on it) Where is your 

Barbara. In West Ham. At the sign of the cross. 
Ask anybody in Canning Town. Where are your 

^^ Undershaft. In Perivale St. Andrews. At the sign 
of the sword. Ask anybody in Europe. 

LoMAz. Hadnt I better play something? 

Barbara. Yes. Give us Onward, Christian Soldiers. 

LoMAX. Well, thats rather a strong order to begin 
with, dont you know. Suppose I sing Thourt passing 
hence, my brother. It's much the same tune. 

Barbara. It's too melancholy. You get saved^ 


72 Major Barbara Act I 

Cholly; and youll pass hence, my broiiher, witiiout mak- 
. ing such a fuss about it. 

^y* Lady Britomart. Really, Barbara, you go on as if 

reli gion were a pje AgAnf. i^^j^j^Hl .Do have some sense o7 
"^^ i/'\ '^ Undershaft. I do not find it an unpleasant subject, 
' ^%J^ vA . my dear. It is the only one that capable people really 

^* <i Lady Britomart (looking at her watch). Well, if 

h/ fi^'ou are determined to have it, I insist on having it 

fV P * proper and respectable way. Charles : ring for 

tf '^prayers. {General amazement. Stephen rises in dis- 

KvV yi-' LoMAX (rising). Oh I say! 
H *v^ ^ Undershaft (rising), I am afraid I must be going. 

fj^ Lady Britomart. You cannot go now, Andrew: it 

would be most improper. Sit down. Wliat will the 
servants think? Sf^ir *, 

^ Undershaft. My dear: i have conscientious scru- 
ples. May I suggest a compromise? If Barbara will 
conduct a little service in the drawingroom, with Mr. 
Lomaz as organist^ I will attend it willingly. I will 
even take part, if a trombone can be procured. 

Lady Britomart. Dont mock, Andrew. 
^ Undershaft («^ocA;eef — to Barbara). You dont tiiink 
I am mocking, my love, I hope. 

Barbara. No, of course not; and it wouldnt matter 
if yom were: half the Army came to their first meeting 
for a lark. (Rising.) Come along. Come, Dolly, 
Come, Cholly. (She goes out with Undershaft, who 
opens the door for her. Cusins rises.) 

Lady Britomart. I will not be disobeyed by every- 
body. Adolphus: sit down. Charles: you may go. You 
are not fit for prayers: you cannot keep your coun- 

LoMAx. Oh I say! (He goes out.) 

Lady Britomart (continuing). But you^ Adolphus, 

Act I Major Barbara 78 

can behave yourself if you choose to. I insist on yonr 

CusiNS^ My dear Lady Brit: there are things in the 
family prayer book that I couldnt bear to hear you say. 

Ladt Britomart. What things^ pray? 

CusiNs. Well, you would have to say before all the 
servants that we have done things we ought not to have 
done, and left undone things we ought to have done, and 
that there is no health in us. I cannot bear to hear you 
doing yourself such an injustice, and Barbara such an 
injustice. As for myself, I flatly deny it: I have done 
my best. I shouldnt dare to marry Barbara — I couldnt 
look you in the face — ^if it were true. So I must go to 
the drawingroom. 

Lauy Britomart (offended). Well, go. {He starts 
for the door.) And remember this, Adolphus {he turns 
to listen) : I have a very strong suspicion that you went 
to the Salvation Army to worship Barbara and nothing 
else. And I quite appreciate the very clever way in 
which you systematically humbug me. I have found 
you out. Take care Barbara doesnt. Thats alL 

CusiNs (with unruffled sweetness). Dont tell on me. 
{He goes out.) 

Ladt Britomart. Sarah: if you want to go, go. 
Anything's better than to sit there as if you wished you 
were a thousand miles away. 

Sarah {languidly). Very well, mamma. {She goes.) 

Lady Britomart, with a sudden flounce, gives way to 
a little gust of tears. 

Stephen {going to her). Mother: whats the matter? 

Ladt Britomart {swishing away her tears with her 
handkerchief). Nothing. Foolishness. You can go 
with him, too, if you like, and leave me with the serv- 

Stephen. Oh, you mustnt think that, mother. I — ^I 
dont like him. 

Ladt Britomart. The others do. That is the In- 

74 Major Barbara Act I 

justice of a woman's lot. A woman has to bring up her 
children; and that means to restrain them, to deny them 
things they want^ to set them tasks^ to punish them when 
they do wrongs to do all the unpleasant things. And 
then the father^ who has nothing to do but pet them and / 
spoil them^ comes in when all her work is done and steals 
their affection from her. 

Stephen. He has not stolen our affection from you. 
It is only curiosity. 

Ladt Britomart {violently). I wont be consoled^ 
Stephen. There is nothing the matter with me. (^She 
rises and goes towards the door.) 

Stephen. Where are you goings mother? 

Lady Britomart. To the drawingroom, of course. 
(^She goes out. Onward, Christian Soldiers,. on the con- 
certina, with tambourine accompaniment, is heard when 
the door opens,) Are you coming, Stephen? 

Stephen. No. Certainly not, (She goes. He sits 
down on the settee, with compressed lips and an expres- 
sion of strong dislike.) 



Tlie yard of the West Ham shelter of the Salvaium 
Army it a cold place on a January morning. The build-' 
ing itself, an old warehouse, is newly whitewashed. Its 
gabled end projects into the yard in the middle, with a 
door on the ground floor, and another in the loft above 
it without any balcony or ladder, but with a pulley rigged 
over it for hoisting sacks. Those who come from this 
central gable end into the yard have the gateway leading 
to the street on their left, with a stone horse-trough just 
beyond it, and, on the right, a penthouse shielding e 
table from the weather. There are forms at the table; 
and on them are seated a man and a woman, both much 
down on their luck, finishing a meal of bread (one thick 
slice each, with margarine and golden syrup) and diluted 

The man, a workman out of employment, is young, 
agile, a talker, a poser, sharp enough to be capable of 
anything in reason except honesty or altruistic considera- 
tions of any kind. The woman is a commonplace old 
bundle of poverty and hard-worn humanity. She looks 
sixty and probably is forty-five. If they were rich 
people, gloved and muffed and well wrapped up in furs 
and overcoats, they would be numbed and miserable; for 
it is a grindingly cold, raw, January day; and a glance 
at the background of grimy warehouses and leaden sky 
visible over the whitewashed walls of the yard would 
drive any idle rich person straight to the Mediterranean. 
But these two, being no more troubled with visions of the 
Mediterranean than of the moon, and being compelled 
to keep more of their clothes in the pawnshop, and less 

on their persons, in winter than in summer, are not dc" 


76 Major Barbara Act II 

pressed by the cold: rather are they stung into vivacity, 
to which their meal has just now given an almost jolly 
turn. The man takes a pull at his mug, and then gets 
up and moves about the yard with his hands deep in his 
pockets, occasionally breaking into a stepdance. 

Thb Woman. Feel better arter your meal, sir? 

Ths Man. No. Call that a meal! Good enough for 
yon, praps; but wot is it to me, an intelligent workin 

The Woman. Workin man! Wot are you? 

The Man. Painter. 

The Woman {sceptically), Yus, I dessay. 

The Man. Yus, you dessay ! I know. Every loafer 
that cant do nothink calls isself a painter. Well, I'm a 
real painter: grainer, finisher, thirty-eight bob a week 
when I can get it. 

The Woman. Then why dont you go and get it? 

The Man. I'll tell you why. Fust: I'm intelligent 
— f f f f f ! it's rotten cold here {he dances a step or two') — 
yes: intelligent beyond the station o life into which it 
has pleased the capitalists to call me; and they dont like 
a man that sees through em. Second, an intelligent bein 
needs a doo share of appiness^ so I drink somethink 
cruel when I get the chawnce. Third, I stand by my 
class and do as little as I can so's to leave arf the job 
for me fellow workers. Fourth, I'm fly enough to know 
wots inside the law and wots outside it; and inside it 
I do as the capitalists do: pinch wot I can lay me ands 
on. In a proper state of society I am sober, industrious 
and honest: in Rome, so to speak, I do as the Romans 
do. Wots the consequence? When trade is bad — and 
it's rotten bad just now — ^and the employers az to sack 
arf their men, they generally start on me. 

The Woman. Whats your name? 

The Man. Price. Bronterre O'Brien Price. Usu- 
ally called Snobby Price, for short. 

Acrr n Major Barbara 77 

The Woman. Snobby's a carpenter, aint it? Ton 
said yon was a painter. 

Price. Not that kind of snob, but the genteel sort. 
I'm too uppish; owing to my intelligence, and my father 
being a Chartist and a reading, linking man: a sta- 
tioner, too. I'm none of your common hewers of wood 
and drawers of water; and dont you forget it. {He 
returns to hie seat at the table, and takes up his mug.) 
Wots yoTkr name? 

The Woman. Rummy Mitchens, sir. 

Pbice {quaffing the remains of his milk to her). Your 
elth. Miss Mitchens. 

BuMMY (correcting him). Missis Mitchens. 

Price. Wot! Oh Rummy, Rummy! Respectable 
married woman. Rummy, gittin rescued by tie Sal- 
vation Army by pretendin to be a bad un. Same old 
game ! 

RuMMT. What am I to do? I cant starve. Them 
Salvation lasses is dear good girls; but the better you 
are, the worse they likes to think you were before they 
rescued you. Why shouldnt they av a bit o credit, poor 
loves? theyre worn to rags by their work. And where 
would they get the money to rescue us if we was to let 
on we're no worse than other people? You know what 
ladies and gentlemen are. 

Price. Thievin swine! Wish I ad their job. Rummy, 
^ all the same. Wot does Rummy stand for? Pet name 
praps ? 

RuMMT. Short for Romola, 

Price. For wot!? 

Rummy. Romola. It was out of a new book. Some- 
body me mother wanted me to grow up like. 

Price. We're companions in misfortune. Rummy. 
Both on us got names that nobody cawnt pronounce. 
G>nsequently I'm Snobby and youre Rummy because Bill 
and Sally wasnt good enough for our parents. Such is 

78 Major Barbara Act n 

Rummy. Who saved you, Mr. Price? Was it Major 
Barbara ? 

Price. No: I come here on my own. I'm goin to be 
Bronterre O'Brien Price, the converted painter. I know 
wot they like. I'll tell em how I blasphemed and gam- 
bled and wopped my poor old mother 

RuMMT (shocked). Used you to beat your mother? 

Price. Not likely. She used to beat me. No mat- 
ter: you come and listen to the converted painter, and 
youU hear how she was a pious woman that taught me 
me prayers at er knee, an how I used to come home 
drunk and drag her out o bed be er snow white airs, an 
lam into er with the poker. 

RuMMT. Thats whats so unfair to us women. Your 
confessions is just as big lies as ours: you dont tell 
What you really done no more than us; but you men 
can tell your lies right out at the meetins and be made 
much of for it; while the sort 'o confessions we az to 
make az to be whispered to one lady at a time. It aint 
right, spite of all their piety. 

Price. Right ! Do you spose the Army 'd be allowed 
if it went and did right? Not much. It combs our air 
and makes us good little blokes to be robbed and put 
upon. But I'll play the game as good as any of em. 
I'll see somebody struck by lightnin, or hear a voice 
sayin "Snobby Price: where will you spend eternity?" 
I'll ave a time of it, I tell you. 

Rummy. You wont be let drink, though. 

Price. I'll take it out in gorspellin, then. I dont 
want to drink if I can get fun enough any other way. 
■^ Jenny Hill, a pale, overwrought, pretty Salvation las9 
of 18, comes in through the yard gate, leading Peter 
Shirley, a half hardened, half worn-out elderly man, 
weak with hunger. 

Jenny {supporting him). Come! pluck up. I'll get 
you something to eat. YouU be all right then. 

Price (^rising and ^hurrying officiously* to take the old 

Act n Major Barbara 79 

man off Jenny's hands). Poor old man! Cheer up, 
brother: youU find rest and peace and appiness ere. 
Hurry up with the food, miss: e's fair done. {Jenny 
hurries into the shelter,) Ere, buck up, daddy! shes 
f etchin y'a thick slice o breadn treacle, an a mug o sky- 
blue. {He seats him at the comer of the table.) 

Rummy {gaily). Keep up your old art! Never say 

Shirley. I'm not an old man. I'm ony 46. I'm as 
good as ever I was. The grey patch come in my hair 
before I was thirty. All it wants is three pennorth o 
hair dye: am I to be turned on the streets to starve for 
it? Holy God! I've worked ten to twelve hours a day 
since I was thirteen, and paid my way all through; and 
now am I to be thrown into the gutter and my job given 
to a young man that can do it no better than me because 
Ive black hair that goes white at the first change? 

Price {cheerfully). No good jawrin about it. Youre 
ony a jumped-up, jerked-off, orspittle-tumed-out incur- 
able of an pie workin man: who cares about you? Eh? 
Make the thievin swine give you a meal: theyve stole 
many a one from you. Get a bit o your own back. 
{Jenny returns with the usual meal.) There you are, 
brother. Awsk a blessin an tuck that into you. 

Shirley {looking at it ralPsnously hut not touching 
it, and crying like a child). I never took anything 

Jexxy {petting him). Come, come! the Lord sends 
it to you: he wasnt above taking bread from his friends; 
and why should you be? Besides, when we find you a 
job you can pay us for it if you like. 

Shirley {eagerly). Yes, yes: thats true. I can pay 
you back: its only a loan. {Shivering.) Oh Lord! oh 
Lord! {He turns to the table and attacks the meal 

Jenny. Well, Rummy, are you more comfortable 


80 Major Barbara Act n 

Rummy. God bless you, loveyl youve fed my body 
and saved my soul, havent you? {Jenny, touched, hisses 
her,) Sit down and rest a bit: you must be ready to drop. 

Jenny. Ive been going hard since morning. But 
theres more work than we can de^I mustnt stop. 

Rummy. Try a prayer for just two minutes. Youll 
work all the better after. 

Jenny (her eyes lighting up). Oh isnt it wonder- 
^ f ul how a few minutes prayer revives you ! I Was quite 
lightheaded at twelve o'clock, I was so tired; but Major 
Barbara just sent me to pray for five minutes; and I 
was able to go on as if I had only just begun. {To 
Price,) Did you have a piece of bread .^ 

Price {with unction). Yes, miss; but Ive got the 
piece that I value more; and thats the peace that passeth 
hall hannerstennin. 

Rummy {fervently). Glory Hallelujah! 

BiU Walker, a rough customer of about 25, appears 
at the yard gate and looks malevolently at Jenny, 

Jenny. That makes me so happy. When you say 
that, I feel wicked for loitering here. I must get to 
work again. 

She is hurrying to the shelter, when the newcomer 
moves quickly up to the door and intercepts her. His 
manner is so threatening that she retreats as he comes 
at her truculently, driving her down the yard. 

Bill. I know you. Youre the one that took away 
my girL Youre the one that set er agen me. Well, I'm 
goin to av er out. Not that I care a curse for her 
or you: see? But I'll let er know; and I'll let you 
know. I'm goin to give er a doin thatU teach er to cut 
away from me. Now in with you and tell er to come 
out afore I come in and kick er out. Tell er Bill Walker 
wants er. She'll know what that means; and if she 
keeps me waitin itU be worse. You stop to jaw back 
at me; and I'll start on you: d'ye hear? Theres your 
iway. In you go. {He takes her by the arm and slings 

Act n Major Barbara 81 

her towards the door of the shelter. She faUt on her 
hand and knee. Rummy helps her up again,) 

Price {rising, and venturing irresolutely towards 
BiU). Easy there^ mate. She aint doin you no arm. 

Bill. Who are you callin mate? (Standing over him 
threateningly,) Youre goin to stand up for her, are 
you? Put up your ands. 

Rummy (running indignantly to him to scold him). 
Oh, you great brute — (He instantly swings his left 
hand back against her face. She screams and reels back 
to the trough, where she sits down, covering her bruised 
face with her hands and rocking herself and moaning 
with pain.) 

Jenny (going to her). Oh God forgive you! How 
could you strike an old woman like that? 

Bill (seising her by the hair so violently that she also 
screams, and tearing her away from the old woman). 
You Gawd forgive me again and I'll Gawd forgive you 
one on the jaw thatll stop you prayin for a week. 
(Holding her and turning fiercely on Price.) Av you 
anything to say agen it? £h? 

Price (intimidated), 'No, matey: she aint anything 
to do with me. 

Bill. Good job for you! I'd put two meals into you 
and fight you with one finger after, you starved cur. 
(To Jenny.) Now are you goin to fetch out Mo g Ha b- 
bijam; or am I to knock your face off you imd fetch her 

Jenny (writhing in his grasp). Oh please someone 
go in and tell Major Barbara — (she screams again as 
he wrenches her head down; and Price and Rummy flee 
into the shelter). 

Bill. You want to go in and tell your Major of me, 
do you? 

Jenny. Oh please dont drag my hair. Let me go. 

Bill. Do you or dont you? (She stifles a scream,) 
Yes or no. 

82 Major Barbara Act n 

Jbnny. God give me strength — 

Bill (striking her with his fist in the face). Go and 
shew her that^ and tell her if she wants one like it to 
come and interfere with me. (Jenny, crying with pain, 
goes into the shed. He gqes to the form and addresses 
the old man.) Here: finish yonr mess; and get out o 
my way. 

Shirlet (springing up and facing him fiercely, with 
the mug tfi his hand). You take a liberty with me^ and 
I'll smash you over the face with the mug and cut your 
eye out. Aint you satisfied — ^young whelps like you — 
with takin the bread out o the mouths of your elders 
that have brought you up and slaved for you^ but you 
must come shovin and cheekin and bullyin in here^ where 
the bread o charity is sickenin in our stummicks? 

Bill (contemptuously, hut backing a little). Wot 
good are you, you old palsy mug? Wot good are you? 

SHmLEY. As good as you and better. I'll do a day's 
work agen you or any fat young soaker of your age. 
Go and take my job at Horrockses, where I worked for 
ten year. They want young men there: they cant afford 
to keep men over forty-five. Theyre very sorry — give 
you a character and happy to help you to get anytliing 
suited to your years — sure a steady man wont be long 
out of a job. Well, let em try you. Theyll find the 
differ. What do you know? Not as much as how to 
beeyave yourself — ^layin your dirty fist across the mouth 
of a respectable woman! 

Bill. Dont provoke me to lay it acrost yours: d'ye 

Shirley (with blighting contempt). Yes: you like 
an old man to hit, dont you, when youve finished with 
the women. I aint seen you hit a young one yet. 

Bill (stung). You lie, you old soupkitchener, you. 
There was a young man here. Did I offer to hit him 
or did I not? 

Shirley. Was he starvin or was he not? Was he 





Act n Major Barbara 88 

a man or only a crosseyed thief an a loafer? Would 
you hit my son-in-law's brother? 

Bill. Who's he? 

Shirley. Todger Fairmile o Balls Pond. Him that 
won £20 off tCe Japanese wrastler at the music hall by 
standin out 17 minutes 4 seconds agen him. 

Bill {sullenly). I'm no music hall wrastler. Can he 

Shirlsy. Yes: an you cant. 

Bill. Wot! I cant, cant I? Wots that you say 
{threatening him) ? 

Shirley {not budging an inch). Will you box 
Todger Fairmile if I put him on to you? Say the word. 

Bill {suhHding with a slouch), I'll stand up to any 
man aHve^ if he was ten Todger Fairmiles. But I dont 
set up to be a perfessionaL 

Shirley {looking down on him with unfathomable 
disdain). You box ! Slap an old woman with the back 
o your hand ! You hadnt even the sense to hit her where 
a magistrate couldnt see the mark of it^ you silly young 
lump of conceit and ignorance. Hit a girl in the jaw 
and ony make her cry! If Todger Fairmile'd done it, 
she wouldnt a got up inside o ten minutes, no more than 
you would if he got on to you. Yah! I'd set about 
you myself if I had a week's f eedin in me instead o two 
months starvation. {He returns to the table to finish 
his meal.) 

Bill {following him and stooping over him to drive 
the taunt in). You lie! you have the bread and treacle 
in you that you come here to beg. 

Shirley {bursting into tears). Oh God! it's true: 
I'm only an old pauper on the scrap' heap. {Furiously.) 
But youll come to it yourself; and then youU know. 
YouU come to it sooner than a teetotaller like me, fillin 
yourself with gin at this hour o the mornin ! 

Bill. I'm no gin drinker, you old liar; but when I 
want to give my girl a bloomin good idin I like to ay a 


84 Major Barbara Act n 

bit o devil in me: see? An here I am, talkin to a rotten 
old blighter like yon sted o givin her wot for. (Work- 
ing himself into a rage.) I'm goin in there to fetch her 
out. {He makei venge fully for the shelter door.) 

SHmLEY. Youre goin to the stotion on a streteher, 
more likely; and theyll take the gin and the devil out 
of you there when they get you inside. You mind what 
youre about: the major here is the Earl o Stevenage's 

Bill {checked). Gam! 

SHmLEY. Youll see. 

Bill (his resolution oozing). Well, I aint done noth- 
in to er. 

SHmLXT. Spose she said you did! who'd believe you? 

Bill (verif uneasy, skulking hack to the comer of the " 
penthouse). Gawd! theres no jastice in this country. 
To think wot them people can do ! I'm as good as er. 

Shirley. Tell her so. Its just what a fool like you 
would do. 

Barbara, brisk and businesslike, comes from the shel- 
ter with a note book, and addresses herself to Shirley. 
Bill, cowed, sits down in the comer on a form, and 
turns his back on them. 

Barbara. Good morning. 

SnmLEY {standing up and taking off his hat). Good 
morning, miss. 

Barbara. Sit down: make yourself at home. {He 
hesitates; but she puts a friendly hand on his shoulder 
and makes him obey.) Now then! since youve made 
friends with us, we want to know all about you. Names 
and addresses and trades. 

Shirley. Peter Shirley. Fittelr. Chucked out two 
months ago because I was too old. 

Barbara {not at all surprised). Youd pass still. 
Why didnt you dye your hair? 

Shirley. I did. Me age come out at a coroner's in- 
quest on me daughter. 

Act n Major Barbara 85 

Barbara. Steady? 

Shirlkt. Teetotaller. Never out of a job before. 
Good worker. And sent to the knackers like an old 

Barbara. No matter: if yon did your part God will 
do his. 

Shirlbt {tuddenly ttuhhorn). My religion's no con- 
cern of anybody bnt myself. 

Barbara {gtietnng), I know. Secularist? 

SHmuET {hotly). Did I offer to deny it? 

Barbara. Wby should you? My own father's a 
Secularist^ I think. Our Father — ^yours and mine — ful- 
fils himself in many ways; and I daresay he knew what 
he was about when he made a Secularist of you. So 
buck up^ Peter! we can always find a job for a steady 
man like you. {Shirley, disarmed, touches his hat. She 
turns from him to BUL) Whats your name? 

Bill {insolently). Wots that to you? 

Barbara {calmly making a note). Afraid to give his 
name. Any trade? 

Bill. Who's afraid to give his name? {Doggedly, 
fvith a sense of heroically defying the House of Lords 
in the person of Lord Stevenage.) If you want to bring 
a charge agen me^ bring it. {She waits, unruffled.) My 
name's Bill Walker. 

Barbara {as if the name were familiar: trying to 
remember how). Bill Walker? {JRecollecting.) Oh, 
I know: youre the man that Jenny Hill was praying for 
inside just now. {She enters his name in her note book.) 

Bill. Who's Jenny Hill? And what call has she to 
pray for me? 

Barbara. I dont know. Perhaps it was you that cut 
her lip. 

Bill {defiantly). Yes, it was me that cut her lip. 
I aint afraid o y o u. 

Barbara. How could you be^ since youre not afraid 
of God? Youre a brave man, Mr. Walker. It takes 

86 Major Barbara Act n 

some pluck to do our work here; but none of us dare 
lift our hand against a girl like that^ for fear of her 
father in heaven. 

3iLL (suUenly). I want none o your cantin jaw. I 
suppose you think I come here to beg from you, like 
this damaged lot here. Not me. I dont want your 
bread and scrape and catlap. I dont believe in your 
Gawd^ no more than you do yourself. 

Barbara (^sunnily apologetic and ladylike, at on a 
new footing with him). Oh., I beg your pardon for 
putting your name down^ Mr. Walker. I didnt under- 
stand. I'll strike it out. 

Bill (taking this as a slight, and deeply wounded by 
it), £ah! you let my name alone. Aint it good enough 
to be in your book? 

Barbara (considering). WeU, you see^ theres no use 
putting down, your name unless I can do something for 
you, is there? Whats your trade? 

Bill (stiU smarting). Thats no concern o yours. 

Barbara. Just so. (Very businesslike.) I'll put 
you down as (writing) the man who — struck — poor little 
Jenny Hill — in the mouth. 

Bill (rising threateningly). See here. Ive ad 
enough o this. 

Barbara (quite sunny and fearless). What did you 
come to us for? 

Bill. I come for my girl, see? I come to take her 
out o this and to break er jawr for her. 

Barbara (complacently). You see I was right about 
your trade. (Bill, on the point of retorting furiously, 
finds himself, to his great shame and terror, in danger 
of crying instead. He sits down again suddenly.) 
Whats her name? 

Bill (dogged). £r name's Mog Abbijam: thats wot 
her name is. 

Barbara. Oh, she's gone to Canning Town, to our 
barracks there. 


A0T n Major Barbara 87 

Bill {fortified hy his resentment of Mog*s perfidy). 
Is she? (Vindictively.) Then I'm goin to KennmttJm 
arter her. {He crosses to the gate; hesitates; finally 
comes hack at Barbara.) Are you lyin to me to get 
shut o me? 

Barbara. I dont want to get shut of you. I want 
to keep you here and save your soul. Youd better stay: 
youre gomg to have a bad time today^ Bill. 

Bill. Who's goin to give it to me ? Y o u, praps. 

Barbara. Someone you dont believe in. But youll 
be glad afterwards. 

Bill (slinking off). I'll go to Kennintahn to be out 

the reach o your tongue. (Suddenly turning on her 
with intense malice.) And if I dont find Mog there^ 
I'll come back and do two years for you^ selp me Gawd 
if I don't! 

Barbara (a shade kindlier, if possible). It's no use^ 
Bill. Shes got another bloke. 

Bill. Wot ! 

Barbara. One of her own converts. He fell in love 
with her when he saw her with her soul saved^ and her 
face clean^ and her hair washed. 

Bill (surprised). Wottud she wash it for^ the car- 
roty slut? It's red. 

Barbara. It's quite lovely now^ because she wears a 
new look in her eyes with it. It's a pity youre too late. 
The new bloke has put your nose out of joints Bill. 

Bill. I'll put his nose out o joint for him. Not that 

1 care a curse for her^ mind that. But I'll teach her 
to drop me as if I was dirt. And I'll teach him to 
meddle with my judy. Wots hs bleedin name? 

Barbara. Sergeant Todger Fairmile. 

Shirley (rising with grim joy). I'll go with him^ 
miss. I want to see them two meet. I'll take him to 
the infirmary when it's over. 

Bill (to Shirley, with undissembled misgiving). Is 
that im you was speakin on? 

88 Major Barbara Act n 

Shirlet. Thats him. 

Bill. Im that wrastled in the music all? 

Shirlkt. The competitions at the National Sportin 
Club was worth nigh a hundred a year to him. Hes 
gev em up now for religion; so hes a bit fresh for want 
of the exercise he was accustomed to. Hell be glad to 
see you. Come along. 

Bill. Wots is weight? 

Shirley. Thirteen four. {^ilVs last hope expires,) 

Barbara. Go and talk to him^ Bill. He'll convert 

Shirlet. He'll convert your head into a mashed 

Bill (suUenly). I aint afraid of him. I aint afraid 
of ennybody. But he can lick me. Shes done me. {He 
sits down moodily on the edge of the horse trough,) 

Shirlet. You aint goin. I thought not. {He r«- 
sumes his seat,) 

Barbara {calling). Jenny! 

Jennt {appearing at the shelter door with a plaster 
on the comer of her mouth). Yes, Major. 

Barbara. Send Rummy Mitchens out to clear away 

Jennt. I think shes afraid. 

Barbara {her resemblance to her mother flashing out 
for a moment). Nonsense! she must do as shes told. 

Jennt {calling into the shelter). Rummy: the Major 
says you must come. 

Jenny comes to Barbara, purposely keeping on the 
side next Bill, lest he should suppose that she shrank 
from him or bore malice. 

Barbara. Poor little Jenny! Are you tired? {Look- 
ing at the wounded cheek,) Does it hurt? 

Jennt. No: it's all right now. It was nothing. 

Barbara {critically). It was as hard as he could 
hit, I expect. Poor Bill! You dont feel angry with 
him, do you? 

Act n Major Barbara 89 

Jexxt. Oh no^ no^ no: indeed I dont^ Major^ bless 
his poor heart ! {Barbara kisset her; and she runs away 
merrily into the shelter. Bill writhes with an agonising 
return of his new and alarming symptoms, but says noth- 
ing. Rummy Mitchens comes from the shelter^ 

Barbara (going to meet Rummy). Now Rmnmy^ 
bnstle. Take in those mugs and plates to be washed; 
and throw the crumbs about for the birds. 

Rummy takes, the three plates and mugs; but Shirley 
takes back his mug from her, as there is stiU some milk 
left in it, 

EuMHT^r There aint any crumbs. This aint a time to 
waste good ^read on birds. 

Prick, (appearing at the shelter door). Gentleman 
come to see the shelter^ Major. Says hes your father. 

Barbara. All right. Coming. (Snobby goes back 
into the shelter, followed by Barbara,) 

-RvMMT (stealing across to Bill and addressing him 
in a subdued voice, but with intense conviction). I'd 
av the lor of you^ you flat eared pignosed potwalloper^ 
if she'd let me. Youre no gentleman^ to hit a lady in 
the face. (Bill, with greater things moving in him, 
takes no notice.) 

Shirley (following her). Here! in with you and 
dont get yourself into more trouble by talking. 
- "BvMMY (with hauteur), I aint ad the pleasure o 
being hintroduced to you^ as I can remember. (She 
goes into the shelter with the plates.) 

Shirley. Thats tlie — 

Bill (savagely). Dont you talk to me^ d'ye hear. 
You lea me alone^ or I'll do you a mischief. I'm not 
dirt under your feet, anyway. 

Shirley (calmly). Dont you be afeerd. You aint such 
prime company that you need expect to be sought after. 
(He is about to go into the shelter when Barbara comes 
out, with Undershaft on her right.) 

Barbara. Oh there you are^ Mr. Shirley! (^Between 

90 Major Barbara Ac?r n 

them,) This is my father: I told you he was a Secular- 
ist^ didnt I? Perhaps youll be able to comfort one 

Undershaft (startled). A Secularist! Not the' 
least in the world: on the contrary^ a confirmed mystic. 

Barbara. Sorry, I'm sure. By the way, papa, what 
i s yonr religion — ^in case I have to introduce you again? 

Undbrshaft. My religion? Well, my dear, I am a 
Millionaire. That is my religion. 

Barbara. Then I'm afraid you and Mr. Shirley wont 
be able to comfort one another after alL Youre not a 
Millionaire, are you, Peter? 

Shirley. No; and proud of it. 

Undershaft (gravely) • Povertj,ja3iy.^fjpend, is npt 
a thing to he ffoaad^jd* 

^ Shirley Xangnlif). Who made your millions for 
you? Me and my like. Whats kep us poor? Keepin 
you rich. I wouldnt have your conscience, not for all 
your income. 

Undershaft. J wouldnt have your income, not fof 
all your conscience, Mr. Shirley. (He goes to the pent^ 
house and sits down on a form,) 

Barbara (stopping Shirley adroitly as he is about to 
retort). You wouldnt think he was my father, would 
you, Peter? Will you go into the shelter and lend the 
lasses a hand for a while : we're worked off our feet. 

Shirley (bitterly). Yes: I'm in their debt for a 
meal, aint I? 

Barbara. Oh, not because youre in their debt; but 
for love of them, Peter, for love of them. (He cannot 
understand, and is rather scandalized.) There! dont 
stare at me. In with you; and give that conscience of 
yours a holiday (hustling him into the shelter). 

Shirley (as he goes in). Ah! it's a pity you never 
was trained to use your reason, miss. Youd have been 
a very taking lecturer on Secularism. 

Barbara turns to her father. 

Act n Mftjor Barbara 91 

' Undsrshaft. Never mind me^ 1117 dear. Go about 
your work; and let me watch it for a while. 

Barbara. All right. 

Undershaft. For instance^ whats the matter with 
that out-patient over there? 

Barbara (looking at Bill, whose attitude ha* never 
changed, and whose expression of brooding wrath has 
deepened). Oh, we shall cure him in no time. Just 
watch. (She goes over to Bill and waits. He glances 
up at her and casts his eyes down again, uneasy, hut 
grimmer than ever,) It w o u 1 d be nice to just stamp 
on Mog Habbi jam's face^ wouldnt it^ Bill? 

Bill (starting up from the trough in consternation) » 
It's a lie: I never said so. (She shakes her head.) Who 
told you wot was in my mind? 

Barbara. Only your new friend. 

Bill. Wot new friend? 

Barbara. The devil^ Bill. When he gets round 
people they get miserable^ just like you. 

Bill (with a heartbreaking attempt at devil-may-care 
cheerfulness). I aint miserable. (He sits down again, 
and stretches his legs in an attempt to seem indifferent.) 

Barbara. Well^ if youre happy^ why dont you look 
happy, as we do? 

Bill (his legs curling back in spite of him). I'm 
appy enough, I tell you. Why dont you lea me alown? 
Wot av I done to you? I aint smashed your face, 

Barbara (softly: wooing his soul). It's not me thats 
getting at you. Bill. 

Bill. Who else is it? 

Barbara. Somebody that doesnt intend you to smash 
women's faces, I suppose. Somebody or something that 
wants to make a man of you. 

Bill (blustering). Make a man o me! Aint I a 
man? eh? aint I a man? Who sez I'm not a man? 

Barbara. Theses a man in you somewhere, I sup- 

92 Major Barbara Act n 

pose. But why did he let you hit poor little Jenny Hill? 
That wasntvery manly of him, was it? 

Bill (tormented). Av done with it, I tell you. Chack 
it. I'm sick of your Jenny 111 and er silly little f«ce. 

Barbara. Then why do you keep thinking about it? 
Why does it keep coming up against you in your mind? 
Youre not getting converted, are you? 

Bill (with conviction). Not mb. Not likely. Not 

Barbara. Thats right, BilL Hold out against it. 
Put out your strength. Dont lets get you cheap. Todger 
Fairmile said he wrestled for three nights against his 
Salvation harder than he ever wrestled with the Jap at 
the music hall. He gave in to the Jap when his arm 
was going to break. But he didnt give in to his salvation 
until his heart was going to break. Perhaps youU 
escape that. You havnt any heart, have you? 

Bill. Wot d'ye mean? Wy aint I got a art the same 
AS ennybody else? 

Barbara. A man with a heart wouldnt have bashed 
poor little Jenny's face, would he? 

Bill (almost crying). Ow, will you lea me alown? 
Av I ever offered to meddle with you, that you come 
naggin and provowkin me lawk this? (He writhes con-- 
vulsively from his eyes to his toes.) 

Barbara (with a steady soothing hand on his arm 
and a gentle voice that never lets him go). It's your 
soul thats hurting you. Bill, and not me. Weve been 
through it all ourselves. Come with us. Bill. (He looks 
wildly round). To brave manhood on earth and eternal 
glory in heaven. (He is on the point of breaking down.) 
Come. (A drum is heard in the shelter; and BUI, fvith 
a gasp, escapes from the spell as Barbara turns quickly. 
Adolphus enters from the shelter with a big drum.) Oh! 
there you are, Dolly. Let me introduce a new friend 
of mine, Mr. Bill Walker. This is my bloke. Bill: Mr. 
Cusins. (Cusins salutes with his drumstick.) 

Act n Major Barbara 98 

BiLt. Goin to marry im? 

Barbara. Yes. 

Bill (fervently). Gord elp im! Gawd elp im! 

Barbara. Why} Do you think he wont be happy 
with me? 

Bill. Ive only ad to stand it for a momin: e'll av to 
stand it for a lifetime. 

CusiNs. That is a frightful reflection^ Mr. Walker.^ 
But I cant tear myself away from her. 

Bill. Well^ I can. (To Barbara,) Eah! do you 
know where I'm going t^y and wot I'm goin to do? 

Barbara. Yes: youre going to heaven; and youre 
coming back here before the week's out to tell me so. 

Bill. You lie. I'm goin to Kennintahn^ to spit in 
Todger Fairmile's eye. I bashed Jenny Ill's face; and 
now I'll get me own face bashed and come back and 
shew it to er. £'11 it me ardem I it er. ThatU make 
us square. (To Adolphus,) Is that fair or is it not? 
Youre a genlmn: you oughter know. 

Barbara. Two black eyes wont make one white one» 

Bill. I didnt ast you. Cawnt you never keep your 
mahth shut? I ast the genlmn. 

CusiNS (reflectively). Yes: I think youre rights Mr. 
Walker. Yes : I should do it. Its curious : its exactly 
what an ancient Greek would have done. 

Barbara. But what good will it do? 

CusiNs. Well, it will give Mr. Fairmile some exer- 
cise; and it will satisfy Mr. Walker's soul. 

.Bill. Rot! there aint no sach a thing as a soul. Ah 
kin you tell wether Ive a soul or not? You never seen it. 

Barbara. Ive seen it hurting you when you went 
against it. 

Bill (with compressed aggravation). If you was my 
girl and took the word out o me mahth lawk thet, I'd 
give you suthink youd feel urtin, so I would. (To 
Adolphus.) You take my tip^ mate. Stop er jawr; or 

94 Major Barbara Act n 

youll die afore your time. (With intense expression,) 
Wore aht: thets wot youll be: wore aht. (He goes away 
through the gate.) 

CusiNs {looking after him), I wonder! 

Barbara. DoUy! (indignant, in her mother's man- 

CusiNg. Yes, my dear, it's very wearing to be in 
love with yon. If it lasts, I quite think I shall die 

Barbara. Should you mind.^ 

CusiNs. Not at alL (He is suddenly softened, and 
kisses her over the drum, evidently not for the first time, 
as people cannot kiss over a big drum without practice. 
Under shaft coughs,) 

Barbara. It's all right, papa, weve not forgotten 
you. Dolly: explain the place to papa: I havnt time. 
(She goes busily into the shelter,) 

Undershaft and Adolphus now have the yard to them- 
selves, Undershaft, seated on a form, and stUl keenly 
attentive, looks hard at Adolphus, Adolphus looks hard 
at him, 
^ Undershaft. I fancy you guess something of what 
is in my mind, Mr. Cusins. (Cusins flourishes his drum- 
sticks as if in the act of beating a lively rataplan, but 
makes no sound,) Exactly so. But suppose Barbara 
finds you out! 

Cusins. You know, I do not admit that I am im- 
posing on Barbara. I am quite genuinely interested in 
the views of the Salvation Army. The fact is, I am a 
sort of collector of religions; and the curious thing is 
that I find I can believe them alL By the way, have 
you any religion? 
^ Undershaft. Yes. 

Cusins. Anything out of the common? 

Undershaft. Only that there are two things neces- 
sary to Salvation. 

Cusins (disappointed, but polite). Ah, the Church 

Act n Major Barbara 05 

Catechism. Charles Lomaz also belongs to the Estab- 
lished Churc^i^ 
Undxrshaft. The two things are — fvX^ 

CusiNs. Baptism and — fJ"^/ 

^ Undbrshaft. No. Money and gminowd<»r. 

CusiNs (iurprised, but interested). That is the gen- 
eral opinion of our governing classes. The novelty is in 
hearing any man confess it. 

Undkrshaft. Just so. 

CusiNs. Excuse me: is there any place in your re- 
ligion for honor^ justice^ truths love^ mercy and so forth? 

Undeeshaft. Yes: they are the graces and luxuries 
of a rich, strongs and safe life. 

CusiNs. Suppose one is forced to choose between 
them and money or gunpowder? 

Undsrshaft. Choose money and gunpowder ; for 
without enough of both you cannot afford the others. 

CusiNS. That is your religion? 

Undershaft. Yes. 

The cadence of this reply makes a full close in the 
conversation, Cusins twists his face dubiously and con- 
templates Undershaft, Undershaft contemplates him, 

Cusins. Barbara wont stand that. You will have to 
choose^etween your religion and Barbara. 

Undershaft. So will you^ my friend. She will £nd 
out that that drum of yours is hollow. 

Cusins. Father Undershaft: you are mistaken: I am 
a sincere Salvationist. You do not understand the Sal- 
vation Army. It is the army of joy, of love, of cour- 
age: it has banished the fear and remorse and despair 
of the old hell-ridden evangelical sects: it marches to 
fight the devil with trumpet and drum, with music and 
dancing, with banner and palm, as becomes a sally from 
heaven by its happy garrison. It picks the waster out 
of the public housefand makes a man of him: it finds 
a worm wriggling in a back kitchen, and lo! a woman! 
Men and women of rank too^ sons and daughters of the 

96 Major Barbara Act n 

Highest. It takes the poor professor of Greeks the 
most artificial and self -suppressed of human creatures^ 
from his meal of roots^ and lets loose the rhapsodist 
in him; reveals the true worship of Dionysos to him; 
sends him down the public street drumming .dithyrambs 
{he plays a thundering flourish on the drum). 
•• Undiershaft. You will alarm the shelter. 

Cusivs. Oh^ they are accustomed to these sudden 
ecstasies of piety. However, if the drum worries you — 
(he pockets the drumsticks; unhooks the drum; and 
stands it on the ground opposite the gateway). 
^ Undebshaft. Thank you. 

CusiNs. You remember what Euripides says about 
your money and gunpowder? ^%cfi^ 

,^ Undershaft. No. 

CusiNs (declaiming). 

One and another 
In money and guns may outpass his brother ; 
And men in their millions float and flow 
And seethe with a million hopes as leaven ; 
And they win their will ; or they miss their will ; 
And their hopes are dead or are pined for stiU ; 

But whoe*er can know 

As the long days go 
That to live is happy, has found his heaven. 

My translation: what do you think of it? 
^ Undershaft. I^thii^, my friend, that if you wish 
\o know, as the long days go, that to live is happy, 
you musd; flrs( acquire money enough for a decent liFe, 
Ifnd power enough to be yjpur own master. 

CusiNs. Yoii^ are .damnably discouraging. (He re- 
sumes his declamation.) 

Is it so hard a thing to see ^ 

That the spirit of God — whate*er it be— \ 

The Law that abides and changes not, ages long, j 

The Eternal and Nature-bom : these things be strong? 



Act n Major Barbara 97 

What else is Wisdom ? What of Man's endeavor. 
Or God*s high grace so lovely and so great ? 
To stand from fear set free ? to breathe and wait ? 
To hold a hand uplifted over Fate ? 
And shall not Barbara be loved for ever? 

^ Undbrshaft. Euripides mentions Barbara^ does he? ' 

CusiNS. It Is « fair translation. The word means 

^ Undershaft. May I ask — as Barbara's f adier — haw 
much a yxar she is. to be loved for ever on? 
' CusiNs. A9 Barbara's father^ that is more yonr affair 
them mine. I ccm feed her by teaching Greek: that is 
about alL . 

UxDSRSHAFT. Do you Consider it a good match for 
her/ r^ O 

CusiKs {with polite ohitinacy). Mr. Undershaft: I. 
api in many ways a weak^ timid^ ineffectual person; and 
my health is far from satisfactory. But whenever I feel 
that I must have anything^ I get it^ sooner or later. I 
feel that way about Barbara. I dont like marriage: 
I feel intensely afraid of it; and I dont know what I 
shall do with Barbara or what she will do with me. 
But I feel that I and nobody else must marry her. 
Please regard that as settled. — Not that I wish to be 
arbitrary; but why should I waste your time in discuss- 
ing what is inevitable? 
^J^t^ Undershaft. Yqu mean- that you will stick at noth- 
ing: not even the conversion of the Salvation Army to 
the worship of Dionysos. 

CusiNs. The business of the Salvat|on Army is to 
save^ not to wrangle about the name of thq pathfinder. 
Dionysos or another: what does it matter? 

Undershaft (rising and approaching him). Pro- 
^^ fessor Cusins: you are a young man after my own 
heart , 

Cusins. Mr. Undershaft: you are, as far as I am 

98 Major Barbara Act U 

' able to gather^ a most infernal old rascal; hut you appeal 
vety strongly to my sense of ironic humor. 

TJndershaft mutely offers his hand. They shake, 
Undershaft (^suddenly concentrating himself). And 
"^now to business. 

CusiNs. Pardon me. We were discussing religion. 

/ ^'•t Why go back to such an uninteresting and unimportant 

^ subject as business.'^ 

^^ Undershaft. Religion is our business at present^ 

because it is through religion alone that we can win 


C0SINS. Have you, too, fallen in love with Barbara? 
^ Undershaft. Yes, witii a father's love. 

CusiNS. A father's love for a grown-up daughter is 
the most dangerous of all infatuations. I apologize for 
mentioning my own pale, coy, mistrustful fancy in the 
same breath with it. 
^ Undershaft. Keep to the point. We have to win 
her; and we are neither of us Methodists. 

CusiNS. That doesnt matter. The power Barbara 
wields here — ^the power that wields Barbara herself — \s 
not Calvinism, not Presbyterianism, not Methodism — 
V^"^ Undershaft. Not Greek Paganism either, eh? 

CusiNS. I admit that. Barbara is quite original in 
her religion. 
„t^ Undershaft {triumphantly). Aha! Barbara Under- 
shafjt would be. Her inspiration comes from widiin 

CusiNS. How do you suppose it got there? 
«^ Undershaft {in towering excitement). It. is the Un- 
dershaft inheritance. I shall hand on my torch to-^my 
daughter. She shall make my converts and preach my 
gospel — 

CusiNS. What! Money and gunpowder! 
^ Undershaft. Yes, money and gunpowder; free- 
dom and power; command of life and command of 


Act n Major Barbara ^ 

Cusixs {urbanely: trying to bring him down to earth). 
This is. extrenijely interoiting^ Mr. Undershaft. df 
course you know that yon ^are mad. 
^ Undershaft (with redoubled force). And you? 

CusiNS. Qb^ mad a$( a hatter. You are welcome to 
S'*'my secret since I^ave discovered yours. But I am 
astonii^ihed. C^n a madman make cannons? 

Undershaft. Would anyone else than a madman 
make them? And now (with surging energy) question 
for question. Can a sane man translate Euripides? 

CusiNs. No. 
^ Undershaft (seizing him by the shoulder). Can a 
sane woman make a man of a waster or a woman of a 

CusiNs (reeling before the storm), 'Father Colossus 
— Mammoth Millionaire — 

Undershaft (pressing him). Are there two mad 
people or three in this Salvation shelter to-day? 

CusiNS. You mean. Barbara is as mad as we fire ! 
^if^ Undershaft (pushing him lightly off and resuming 
his equanimity suddenly and completely). Pooh, Pro- 
fessor! let us call things by their proper names. I am 
a millionaire; you are a poet; Barbara is ^ savior of 
souls. What have we three to do -with th^i^^ommon mob 
^of slaves and idolaters? (He sits down again with a 
shrug of contempt for the mob.) 

CusiNS. Take care! Barbara is in love with the 
conmion people. So am I. Have you never felt the 
romance of tiiat love? 
^- Undershaft (cold and sardonic). Have you ever 
been in love with Poverty, like St. Francis? Have. you 
ever been in. love with Dirt, like St. Simeon? Have you 
<ever been in love with disease and suffering, like our 
nurses and philanthropists? Such passions are not vir- 
tues, but the most unnatural of all the viees. This love 
of the common people may please an. earl's grand- 
daughter and a university professor; but I have bee^ !%^ 

Major Barbara Act n 

common man^d a poor man; and it has no romance for 
me/ Leave it to the poor to pretend that poverty is a 
blessing: leave it to the coward to make a religion of 
his cowardice by preaching humility: we know better 
than that. We three must stand together above the 
J common people: how else can we help their children to 
climb up beside us? Barbara must belong to us^ not 
to the Salvation Ariny. 

CusiNS. Well, I can only say that if you think you 
will get her away from the Salvation Army by talking 
to her as you have been talking to me, you dont know 
^ Undershaft. My friend: I never ask for what I 
can buy. 

CusiNs {in a white fury)^ Do I understand you to 
imply that you can buy Barbara? 
•^ Undershaft. No ; but I can buy the Salvation Army. 
CusiNs. Quite impossible. 

Undershaft. You shall see. . All religious organiza- 
tions exist by selling themselves to the rich. 

CusiNs. Not the Army. That is the Church of the 
^ Undershaft. All the more reason for buying it. 

CusiNs. I dont think you quite know what the Army 
does for the poor. 
».»- Undershaft. Oh yes I do. It draws their teeth: 
that is enough for me — as a man of business — 
CusiNs. Nonsense. It makes them sober — 
Undershaft. I prefer sober workmen. The profits 
are larger. 

CusiNS. — ^honest — 
■^ Undershaft. Honest workmen are the most ceo- 

Cusins. — ^attached to their homes — 
^^ Undershaft. So much the better: they will put up 
with anything sooner than change their shop. 
^ : PusiNs. — ^happy — 

Act n Major Barbara loi 

Undershaft. An invaluable safeguard against revo- 

CusiNS. — ^unselfish — 
^^ Undershaft. Indifferent to their own interests^ 
which suits me exactly. 

CusiNS. — ^with their thoughts on heavenly things — 
^^Undershaft (rising) » And not on Trade Unionism 
nor Socialism. Excellent. 

CusiNS {revolted). You really are an infernal old 
^, Undershaft {indicating Peter Shirley, roho has just 
come from the shelter and strolled dejectedly down the 
yard between them). And this is an honest man! 

Shirley. Yes; and what av I got by it? {he passes 
on bitterly and sits on the form, in the comer of the 

Snobby Price, beaming sanctimoniously, and Jenny 
Hill, with a tambourine full of coppers, come from the 
shelter and go to the drum, on which Jenny begins to 
count the money. 
^- Undershaft {replying to Shirley). Oh, your em- 
ployers must have got a good deal by it from £b*st to 
last. {He sits on the table, with one foot on the side 
form. Cusins, overwhelmed, sits down on the same form 
nearer the shelter. Barbara comes from the shelter to 
the middle of the yard. She is excited and a little over- 

Barbara. Weve just had a splendid experience meet-' 
ing at the other gate in Cripps's lane. Ive hardly ever 
seen them so much moved as they were by your con- 
fession, Mr. Price. 

Pkigb.-. I could almost be glad of my past wickedness 
if I could believe that it would elp to keep <hathers 

Barbara. So it will. Snobby. How much, Jenny? 

Jenny. Four and tenpence. Major. 

Barbara. Oh Snobby, if you had given your poor 

102 Major Barbara Actt n 

mother just one more kick^ we should have got the whole 
five shillings! 

Ffmem^' If she lieard you say that^ miss^ she'd he sorry 
I dldnt. But I'm glad. Oh what a joy it will he to 
her when she hears I'm saved! 
■» Undershaft. Shall I cpntrihute the odd' twopence, 
Barhara? The millionaire's mite^ eh? (He taket a 
couple of pennies from his pocket,) 

Barbara. How did you make that twopence? 
^^ Undershaft. As usual. By selling cannons^ tor- 
pedoes^ submarines^ and my new patent Grand Duke 
hand grenade. 

Barbara. Put it back in your pocket You cant buy 
your Salvation here for twopence: you must work it out. 
^^^ Undershaft. Is twopence not enough? I can afford 
a little more, if you press me. 

Barbara. Two million millions would not be enough. 
There is bad blood on your hands ; and nothing but good 
blood can cleanse them. Money is no use. Take it 
away. {She turns to Cusins.) Dolly: you must write 
another letter for me to the papers. {He makes a wry 
face,) Yes: I know you dont like it; but it must be 
done. The starvation this winter is beating us: every- 
body is unemployed. The General says we must close 
this shelter if we cant get more money. I force the 
collections at the meetings until I am ashamed: dont I^ 
' :?\'P«iflik . It's a fair treat to see you work it. Miss. The 
way you got them up from three-and-six to f our-and-ten 
with that hymn, penny by penny and verse by verse, 
was a caution. Not a Cheap Jack on Mile End Waste 
could touch you at it. 

Barbara. 'Yes; but I wish we could do without it. I 

^ am getting at last to think more of the collection than 

of the people's souls. And what are those hatfuls of 

pence and halfpence? We want thousands! tens of 

thousands! hun^eds of thousands! I want to convert 

Act n Major Barbara 108 

people^ not to be always begging for the Army in a way 
I'd die sooner than beg for myself. 

Undershaft (in profound irony). Genuine unselfish- 
ness is capable of anything^ my dear. 

Barbara {unsuspectingly, as she turns away to take 
the money from the drum and put it in a cash hag she 
carries).' Yes^ isnt it? {Undershaft looks sardonically 
at Cusins.) 

CusiNS {aside to Undershaft), Mephistopheles ! Ma- 
chiavelli ! 

Barbara {tears coming into her eyes as she ties the 
bag and pockets it). How are we to feed them? I cant 
talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes. 
{Almost breaking down.) It's frightful. 

Jenny {running to her). Major, dear — 

Barbara {rebounding). No^ dont comfort me. It 
will'be all right. We shall get the money. • 
,^ Undershaft. How? 

Jenny. By praying for it^ of course. Mrs. Baines 
says she prayed for it last night; and she has never 
prayed for it in vain: never once. {She goes to the gate 
and looks out into the street.) 

Barbara {who has dried her eyes and regained her 
composure). By the way, dad^ Mrs. Baines has come 
to march with us to our big meeting this afternoon; and 
she is very anxious to meet you^ for some reason or 
other. Perhaps she'll convert you. 

Undershaft. I shall be delighted, my dear. 

Jenny {at the gate: excitedly). Major! Major! 
heres that man back again. 

Barbar^. What man? 

Jenny. The man that hit me. Oh, I hope hes com- 
ing back to join us. 

Bill Walker, with frost on his jacket, comes through 
the gate, his hands deep in his pockets and his chin sunk 
between his shoulders, like a cleaned-out gambler* He 
halts between Barbara and the drum* 

104 Major Barbara Act n 

Barbara. Hullo^ Bill! Back already! 

Bill (^nagging at her). Bin talkin ever sence^ av 

Barbara. Pretty nearly. Well^ has Todger paid you 
out for poor Jenny's jaw? 

Bill. No he aint. 

Barbara. I thought your jacket looked a bit snowy. 

Bill. So it is snowy. You want to know where the 
snow come from, dont you? 

Barbara. Yesl. 

Bill. Well^ it come from off the ground in Parkinses 
Comer in Kennintahn. It got rubbed off be mj shoul- 
ders: see? .'*v 

Barbara. Pity you didnt rub some off with your 
knees^ Bill! That would have done you a lot of good. 

Bill (tvitk tour mirthless humor). I was saving an- 
other man's knees at the time. E was kneelin on my 
ed^ so e was. 

Jenny. Who was kneeling on your head? 
' Bill. Todger was. E was prayin for me: prayin 
comfortable with me as a carpet. So was Mog. So 
was the ole bloomin meetin. Mog she sez " O Lord 
break is stubborn spirit; but dont urt is dear art." That 
was wot she said. ** Dont urt is dear art ** ! An er 
bloke — ^thirteen stun four! — kneelin wiv all is weight on 
me. Funny^ aint it? 

Jenny. Oh no. We're so sorry, Mr. Walker. 

Barbara (enjoying it frankly). Nonsense! of course 
it's funny. Served you right. Bill! You must have 
done something to him first. 

Bill {doggedly). I did wot I said I'd do. I spit in 
is eye. £ looks up at the sky and sez, " O that I should 
be f ahnd worthy to be spit upon for the gospel's sake ! " 
e sez ; an Mog sez " Glory Allelloolier ! " ; and then e 
called me Brother, an dahned me as if I was a kid and 
e was me mother washin me a Setterda nawt. I adnt 
just no show wiv im at all. Arf the street prayed; an 

Act n Major Barbara 105 

the tother arf larfed fit to split theirsdves. {To Bar- 
hara.) There! are you. settisf awd nah? 

Barbara {her eyes dancing). Wish I'd heen there^ 

Bill. Yes: youd a got in a hextra bit o talk on me, 
wouldnt you? 

Jenny. I'm so sorry, Mr. Walker. 

Bill (fiercely), Dont you go bein sorry for me: 
youve no call. Listen ere. I broke your jawr. 

Jenny. No, it didnt hurt me: indeed it didnt, except 
for a moment. It was only that I was frightened. 

Bill. I dont want to be forgive be you, or be enny- 
body. Wot I did I'll pay for. I tried to get me own 
jawr broke to settisf aw you — 

Jenny (distressed). Oh no — 

Bill (impatiently). Tell y'l did: cawnt you listen to 
wots oein told you? All I got be it was bein made a 
sight of in the public street for me pains. Well, if I 
cawnt settisfaw you one way, I can another. Listen 
ere! I ad two quid saved agen the frost; an Ive a 
pahnd of it left^ A mate o mine last week ad words 
with the judy e's goin to marry. E give er wot-for; 
an e's bin ^ed fifteen bob. £ ad a right to it er 
because they was goin to be marrid'; but I adnt no 
right to it you; so put anather fawv bob on an call it a 
pahnd's worth. (He produces a sovereign.) Eres the 
money. Take it; and lets av no more o your forgivin 
an prayin and your Major jawrin me. Let wot I done 
be done and paid for ; and let there be a end of it. 

Jenny. Oh, I couldnt take it, Mr. Walker. But if 
you would give a shilling or two to poor Rummy 
Mitchens! you really did hurt her; and shes old. 

Bill (contemptuously). Not likely. I'd give her 
anather as soon as look at er. Let her av the lawr o 
me as she threatened ! She aint forgiven me : not mach. 
Wot I done to er is not on me mawnd — wot she (indi- 
cating Barbara) might call on me conscience — ^no more 

106 Major Barbara Act n 

than fltickin a pig. It's this Christian game o yours that 
I wont av played agen me : this hloomin f orgivin an 
naggin an jawrin that makes a man that sore that iz 
lawf's a burdn to im. I wont av it, I tell you; so take 
your money and stop throwin your silly bashed face hup 
agen me. 

Jenny. Major: may I take a little of it for the 

Barbara. No: the Army is not to be bought. We 
want your soul^ Bill; and we'll take nothing less. 

Bill (bitterly). I know. It aint enough. Me an 
me few shillins is not good enough for you. Youre a 
earl's grendorter^ you are. Nothin less than a underd 
pahnd for you. 

Undershaft. Come^ Barbara! you could do a great 
d^al of good with a hundred pounds. If you will set 
this gentleman's mind at ease by taking his pounds I 
will give the other ninety-nine. {BUI, astounded by 
such opulence, instinctively touches his cap.) 

Barbara. Oh^ youre too extravagant^ papa. Bill 
offers twenty pieces of silver. All you need offer is 
the other ten. That will make the standard price to 
buy anybody who's for sale. I'm not; and the Army's 
not. (To Bill.) Youll never have another quiet mo- 
ment^ Bill^ until you come round to us. You cant stand 
out against your salvation. 

Bill (sullenly). 1 cawnt stend aht agen music-all 
wrastlers and artful tongued women. Ive offered to 
pay. I can do no more. Take it or leave it. There 
it is. (He throws the sovereign on the drum, and sits 
down on the horse-trough. The coin fascinates Snobby 
Price, who takes an early opportunity of dropping his 
cap on it.y 

Mrs. Baines comes from the shelter. She is dressed 
as a Salvation Army Commissioner. She is an earnest 
looking woman of about 40^ with a caressing, urgent 
voice, and an appealing manner. 

Act n Major Barbara 107 

Barbara. This is my father^ Mrs. Baines. {Under- 
shaft comes from the table, taking his hat off with 
marked civility.) Try what you can do with him. He 
wont listen to me^ hecause he remembers what a fool I 
was when I was a baby. {She leaves them together 
and chats with Jenny,) 

Mrs. Baines. Have you been shewn over the shelter^ 
Mr. Undershaft? You know the work we're doings of 
«• Undershaft {very civilly). The whole nation knows 
it, Mrs. Baines. 

Mrs. Baines. No^ sir: the whole nation does not 
know it, or we should not be crippled as we are for 
want of money to carry our work through the length 
and breadth of the land. Let me tell you that there 
would have been rioting this winter in London but for us. 
•« Undershaft. You really think so? 

Mrs. Baines. I know it. I remember 1886^ when 
you rich gentlemen hardened your hearts against the 
cry of the poor. They broke the windows of your clubs 
in PaU MalL 
^^ Undershaft {gleaming with approval of their 
method). And the Mansion House Fund went up next 
day from thirty thousand pounds to seventy-nine thou- 
sand! I remember quite welL 

Mrs. Baines. Well, wont you help me to get at the 
people.^ They wont break windows then. ^'CknsHi ibur.e, 
Fvice. Let^ne shew you to this geStlettiaa< {Prioe eames to 
he inspected). Do you remember* tibe windoiw breaking? 

Pbigs. My ole father thought it was (the revolution/ 

Mrs. Baikbb. Would you break windows now? 
^ - FiiH». Oh no maam. The windows of eaven av bin 
opened to me. I know now that the rich man is a sinner 
like myself. 

RtnfMT {appearing above at the loft door). Snobby 
Price I 

108 Major Barbara Act n 

Snobby. Wot is it? 

Rummy. Your mother's askin for you at the other 
gate in Crippses Lane. She's heard about your confes- 
sion (Price turrit pale), 

Mrs. Baines. vo, Mr. Price; and pray with her. 

Jenny. You caiigo through the shelter, Snobby. 

Price (to Mrs. Raines), I couldnt face her now, 
maam, with all the weight of my sins fresh on me. Tell 
her she'll find her son "^t ome, waitin for her in prayer. 
(He skulks off through the gate, incidentally stealing 
the sovereign on his way ^ut hy picking up his cap from 
the drum,) 

Mrs. Baines (with swimming eyes). You see how 
we take the anger and the bitterness against you out 
of their hearts, Mr. Undershaft. 

Undershaft. , It is certainly most convenient and 
gratifying to all/large employers of labor, Mrs. Baines. 

Mrs. Baines. Barbara: Jenny: I have good news: 
most wonderful news. (Jenny runs to her,) My prayers 
have been answered. I told you they would, Jenny, 
didn't I? 

Jenny. Yes, yes. 

Barbara (moving nearer to the drum). Have we got 
money enough to keep the shelter open? 

Mrs. Baines. I hope we shall have enough to keep 
all the shelters open. Lord Saxmundham has promised 
us five thousand pounds — 

Barbara. Hooray ! 

Jenny. Glory ! 

Mrs. Baines. — ^if — 

Barbara. "If!" If what? 

Mrs. Baines. — if ^yq other gentlemen will give a 
thousand each to make it up to ten thousand. 

Barbara. Who is Lord Saxmundham? I never heard 
of him. 

r Undershaft (who has pricked up his ears at the 
peer's name, and is now watching Barbara curiouslyy 

Act n Major Barbara 109 

A new creation^ my dear. You have heard of Sir Horace 
Bodger ? 

Barbara. Bodger! Do you mean the distiller? 
Bodger's whisky! 

^ Undershaft. That is the man. He is one of the 
greatest of our public benefactors. He restored the 
cathedral at Hakington. They made him a baronet for 
that. He gave half a million to the funds of his party: 
they made him a baron for that. 

Shirley. What will they give him for the five thou- 
«-> Undershaft. There is nothing left to give him. So 
the ^ye thousand^ I should think^ is to save his soul. 

Mrs. Baines. Heaven grant it may ! Oh Mr. Under- 
shaft; you have some very rich friends. Cant you help 
us towards the other five thousand? We are going to 
hold a great meeting this afternoon at the Assembly 
Hall in the Mile End Road. If I could only announce 
that one gentleman had come forward to support Lord 
Saxmundham^ others would follow. Dont you know 
somebody? couldnt you? wouldnt you? (ker eyes fill with 
tears) oh^ think of those poor people^ Mr. Undershaft: 
think of how much it means to them^ and how little to 
a great man like you. 
«^ Undershaft (sardonically gallant). Mrs. Baines: 
you are irresistible. I cant disappoint you; and I cant 
deny myself the satisfaction of making Bodger pay up. 
You shall have your £ye thousand pounds. 

Mrs. Baines. Thank God! 
««» Undershaft. You dont thank me? 

Mrs. Baines. Oh sir^ dont try to be cynical: dont be 
ashamed of being a good man. The Ilord will bless you 
abundantly; and our prayers will be like a strong forti- 
fication roimd you all the days of your life. (With a 
touch of caution.) You will let me have the cheque to 
shew at the meetings wont you? Jenny: go in and 
fetch a pen and ink. (Jenny runs to the shelter door.) 


110 Major Barbara Act n 

^ Undbrshaft. Do not distnrb Miss Hill: I have a 
fountain pen. {Jenny halts. He sits at the table and 
writes the cheque, Cusins rises to make more room for 
him. They all watch him sUently,) 

Bill (cynically, aside to Barbara, his voice and accent 
horribly debased). Wot prawce Selvytion nah? 

Barbara. Stop. (JJnder shaft stops writing: they all 
turn to her in surprise.) Mrs. Baines: are yon really 
going to take this money? 

Mrs. Baines (astonished). Why not, dear? 

Barbara. Wby not! Do yon know what my father 
is.^ Have you forgotten that Lord Saxmundham is 
Bodger the whisky man? Do yon remember how we 
implored the County Council to stop him from writing 
Bodger's Whisky in letters of fire against the sky; so 
that the poor drink-ruined creatures on the embankment 
could not wake up from their snatches of sleep without 
being reminded of their deadly thirst by that wicked 
sky sign ? Do you know that the worst thing I have had 
to fight here is not the devil, but Bodger, Bodger, 
Bodger, with his whisky, his distilleries, and his tied 
houses? Are you going to make our shelter another 
tied house for him, and ask me to keep it? 

Bill. Rotten drunken whisky it is too. 

Mrs. Baines. Dear Barbara: Lord Saxmundham has 
a soul to be saved like any of us. If heaven has found 
the way to make a good use of his money, are we to set 
ourselves up against the answer to our prayers? 

Barbara. I know he has a soul to be saved. Let 
him come down here; and I'll do my best to help him 
to his salvation. But he wants to send his cheque down 
to buy us, and go on being as wicked as ever. 
,^ Undbrshaft (with a reasonableness which Cusins 
alone perceives to be ironical). My dear Barbara: alco- 
hol is a very necessary article. It heals the sick — 

Barbara. It does nothing of the sort. 
^ Undbrshaft. Well^ it assists the doctor: that is per- 

Act n Major Barbara 111 

haps a less questionable way of putting it. It makes 
life bearable to millions of people who could not endure 
their existence if they were quite sober. It enables Par- 
liament to do things at eleven at night that no sane 
person would do at eleven in the morning. Is it Bodger's 
fault that this inestimable gift is deplorably abused by 
less than one per cent of the poor.^ (He turns again to 
the table; signs the cheque; and crosses it.) 

Mrs. Baines. Barbara: will there be less drinking 
or more if all those poor souls we are saving come to- 
morrow and find the doors of our shelters shut in their 
faces .^ Lord Saxmundham gives us the money to stop 
drinking — to take his own business from him. 

CusiNs (impishly). Pure self-sacrifice on Bodger's 
part^ clearly! Bless dear Bodger! (Barbara almost 
breaks down as Adolphus, too, fails her.) 

Undershaft (tearing out the cheque and pocketing 
the book as he rises and goes past Cusins to Mrs. Baines). 
I alsb^ Mrs. Baines, may claim a little disinterestedness. 
Think of my business ! think of the widows and orphans ! 
the men and lads torn to pieces with shrapnel and 
poisoned with lyddite (Mrs. Baines shrinks; but he goes 
on remorsely) ! the oceans of bloody not one drop of 
which is shed in a really just cause! the ravaged crops! 
the peac.eful peasants forced^ women and men^ to till 
their fields under the fire of opposing armies on pain of 
starvation! the bad blood of tiie fierce little cowards at 
home who tgg on others to fight for the gratification of 
their national vanity! All this makes money for me: 
I am never richer^ never busier than when the papers 
arc full of it. Well, it is your work to preach peace 
on earth and goodwill to men. (Mrs. Baines*s face 
lights up again.) Every convert you make is a vote 
against war. (Her lips move in prayer.) Yet I give 
you this money to help you to hasten my own com- 
mercial ruin. (He gives her the cheque.) 

CusiKs (mounting the form in an ecstasy of mischief). 

112 Major Barbara Act n 

The millennium will be inaugurated by the unselfish- 
ness of Undershaft and Bodger. Oh be joyful! {He 
takes the drumsticks from his pockets and flourishes 

Mrs. Baines (taking the cheque). The longer I live 
the more proof I see that there is an Infinite Goodness 
that turns everything to the work of salvation sooner 
or later. Who would have thought that any good could 
have come out of war and drinkr And yet their profits 
are brought today to the feet of salvation to do its 
blessed work. (She is affected to tears.) 

Jenny (running to Mrs. Baines and throwing her 
arms round her). Oh dear! how blessed^ how glorious 
it all is ! 

CusiNs (in a convulsion of irony). Let us seize this 
unspeakable moment. Let us march to the great meet* 
ing at once. Excuse me just an instant. (He rushes 
into the shelter, Jenny takes her tambourine from the 
drum head.) ^, 

Mrs. Baines. Mr. Undershaft: have you ever seen a 
thousand people fall on their knees with one impulse 
and pray.^ Come with us to the meeting. Barbara shall 
tell tiiem that the Army is saved^ and saved through you. 

CusiNs (returning impetuously from the shelter with 
a flag and a trombone, and coming between Mrs. Baines 
and Undershaft). You shall carry the flag down the 
first street^ Mrs. Baines (he gives her the flag). Mr. 
Undershaft is a gifted trombonist: he shall intone an 
Olympian diapason to the West Ham Salvation March. 
(Aside to Undershaft, as he forces the trombone on 
him.) BloW; Machiavelli^ blow. 
^ Undershaft (aside to him, as he takes the trombone). 
The trumpet in Zion ! (Cusins rushes to the drum, which 
he takes up and puts on. Undershaft continues, aloud) 
I will do my best. I could vamp a bass if I knew the 

Cusms. It is a wedding chorus from one of Doni- 

Act n Major Barbara 118 

zetti's operas; but we have converted it. We convert 
everything to good here^ including Bodger. You re- 
member Qie chorus. ** For thee immense rejoicing — 
immenso giubilo — ^immense giubilo." {With drum ohhli" 
gato.} Rum turn ti tum tum^ turn tum ti ta — 

Barbara. Dolly: you are breaking my heart. 

CusiNs. What is a broken heart more or less here I! 
Dionysos Undershaft has descended. I am possessed. 

Mrs. Baines. Come^ Barbara: I must have my dear 
Major to carry the flag with me. 

Jennt. Yes, yes. Major darling. 

Ct7SiNs {inatches the tambourine out of Jenny's hand 
and mutely offers it to Barbara). 

Barbara {coming forward a little as she puts the offer 
behind her with a shudder, whilst Cusins recklessly 
tosses the tambourine back to Jenny and goes to the 
gate), I cant come. 

Jenny. Not come! 

Mrs. Baines {with tears in her eyes). Barbara: do 
you think I am wrong to take the money? 

Barbara {impulsively going to her and kissing Aer). 
No, no: God help you, dear, you must: you are saving 
the Army. Go ; and may you have a great meeting ! 

Jennt. But amt you coming? 

Barbara. No. {She begins taking off the silver Si 
brooch from her collar.) 

Mrs. Baines. Barbara: what are you doing? 

Jenny. Why are you taking your badge off? You 
cant be going to leave us. Major* 

Barbara {quietly). Father: come here. 
# Undershaft {coming to her).- My dear! {Seeing 
that she is going to pin the badge on his collar, he re- 
treats to the penthouse in some alarm.) 

Barbara {following him). Dont be frightened. 
{She pins the badge on and steps back towards the table, 
shewing him to the others.) There! It's not much for 
£5000, is it? 

114 Major Barbara ActII 

Mrs. Baines. Barbara: if you wont come and pray 
with us, promise me you will pray f o r us. 

Barbara. I cant pray now. Perhaps I shall never 
pray again. 

Mrs. Baines. Barbara! 

Jenny. Major ! 

Barbara (almost delirious), I cant bear any more. 
Quick march! 

CusiNs (calling to the procession in the street out" 
side). Off we go. Play up, there ! Immenso giu- 
b i 1 o. (He gives the time with his drum; and the 
hand strikes up the march, which rapidly becomes more 
distant as the procession moves briskly away,) 

Mrs. Baines. I must go, dear. Youre overworked: 
you will be all right tomorrow. We'll never lose you. 
Now Jenny: step out with the old flag. Blood and Fire! 
(She marches out through the gate with her flag.) 

Jenny. Glory Hallelujah! (flourishing her tam- 
bourine and marching). 

Undershaft (to Cusins, as he marches out past him 
easing the slide of his trombone). " My ducats and my 
daughter ** ! 

CusiNs (following him out). Money and gunpowder! 

Barbara. Drui^enness and Murder! My God: 
why hast thou forsaken me? 

She sinks on the form with her face buried in her 
hands. The march passes away into silence. Bill Walker 
steals across to her. 

Bill (taunting). Wot prawce Selvytion nah? 

Shirley. Dont you hit her when shes down. 

Bill. She it me wen aw wiz dahn. Waw shouldnt I 
git a bit o me own back? 

Barbara (raising her head). I didnt take your 
money. Bill. (She crosses the yard to the gate and 
turns her back on the two men to hide her face from 

Bill (sneering after her). Naow, it wamt enough 

Act n Major Barbara 116 

for you. (Turning to the drum, he misses the money.) 
Ellow! If you aint took it summun else az. Weres it 
gom? Blame me if Jenny 111 didnt take it arter all! 

Rummy (screaming at him from the loft). You lie, 
you dirty blackguard! Snobby Price pinched it ofF the 
drum wen e took ap iz cap. I was ap ere all the time 
an see im do it. 

Bill. Wot! Stowl maw money! Waw didnt you 
call thief on him, you silly old mucker you? 

Rummy. To serve you aht for ittin me acrost the fice. 
It's cost y'pahnd, that az. (Raising a pasan of squalid 
triumph,) I done you. I'm even with you. Ive ad it 
aht o y — (Bill snatches up Shirley's mug and hurls 
it at her. She slams the loft door and vanishes. The 
mug smashes against the door and falls in fragments.) 

Bill (beginning to chuckle). Tell us, ole man, wot 
o'clock this momin was it wen im as they call Snobby 
Prawce was sived.^ 

Barbara (turning to him more composedly, and with 
unspoiled sweetness). About half past twelve. Bill. 
And he pinched your pound at a quarter to two. / know. 
Well, ygu cant afford to lose it. I'll send it to you. 

Bill (his voice and accent suddenly improving). Not 
if I was to starve for it. / aint to be bought. 

Shirley. Aint you? Youd sell yourself to the devil 
for a pint o beer; ony there aint no devil to make the 

Bill (unshamed). So I would, mate, and often av, 
cheerful. But she cawnt buy me. (Approaching Bar- 
bara.) You wanted my soul, did you? Well, you aint 
got it 

Barbara. I nearly got it. Bill. But weve sold it back 
to you for ten thousand pounds. 

Shirley. And dear at the money ! 

Barbara. No, Peter: it was worth more than money. 

Bill (salvationproof). It's no good: you cawnt get 
rahnd me nah. I dont blieve in it; and Ive seen today 

116 Major Barbara Act n 

that I was right. (Going.) So long^ old soupkitchener ! 
Ta^ ta, Major Earl's Grendorter! {Turning at the gate.) 
Wot prawce Sdvytion nah? Snobby Prawce! Ha! ha! 

Barbara (offering her hand). Goodbye^ Bill. 

Bill (taken aback, half plucks his cap off; then shoves 
it on again defiantly). Git aht. (Barbara drops her 
hand, discouraged. He has a twinge of remorse.) But 
thets aw rawt^ you knaow. Nathiiik pasnL Naow 
mellice. So long^ Judy. (He goes.) 

Barbara. No malice. So long, BiU. 

Shirley (shaking his head). You make too much of 
him. Miss, in your innocence. 

Barbara (going to him). Peter: I'm like you now. 
Cleaned out, and lost my job. 

Shirley. Youve youth an hope. Thats two better 
than me. 

Barbara. I'll get you a job, Peter. Thats hope for 
you: the youth will have to be enough for me. (She 
counts her money.) 1 have just enough left for two 
teas at Lockharts, a Rowton doss for you, and my tram 
and bus home. (He frowns and rises with offended 
pride. She takes his arm.) Dont be proud, Peter: it's 
sharing between friends. And promise me youll talk to 
me and not let me cry. (She draws him towards the 

Shirley. Well, I'm not accustomed to talk to the 
like of you — 

Barbara (urgently). Yes, yes: you must talk to me. 
Tell me about Tom Paine's books and Bradlaugh's 
lectures. Come along. 

Shirley. Ah, if you would only read Tom Paine in 
the proper spirit. Miss ! (They go out through the gate 

BKD OF act U. 


Next day after lunch Lady Britomart is writing in the 
library in WiLton Crescent, Sarah is reading in the 
armchair near the window. Barbara, in ordinary dress, 
pale and brooding, is on the settee, Charles Lomax 
enters. Coming forward between the settee and the 
writing table, he starts on seeing Barbara fashionably 
attired and in low spirits, 

LoMA2. Youve left off your uniform! 

Barbara says nothing; but an expression of pain passes 
over her face. 

Lady Britomart (warning him in low tones to be 
careful). Charles! 

LoMAX {much concerned, sitting down sympathetically 
on the settee beside Barbara). I'm awfully sorry, Bar- 
bara. You know I helped you all I could with the con- 
certina and so forth. {Momentously.) Still, I have 
never shut my eyes to the fact that there is a certain 
amount of tosh about the Salvation Army. Now the 
claims of the Church of England — 

Lady Britomart. Thats enough, Charles. Speak of 
something suited to your mental capacity. 

L0MA2. But surely the Church of England is suited 
to all our capacities. 

Barbara (pressing his hand). Thank you for your 
83rmpathy, Cholly. Now go and spoon with Sarah. 

LoMAX (rising and going to Sarah). How is my own- 
est today? 

Sarah. I wish you wouldnt tell Cholly to do things, 
Barbara. He always comes straight and does them. 
Cholly: we're going to the works at Perivale St. Andrews 
this afternoon* 


118 Major Barbara Act m 

LoMAz. What works ? 

Sarah. The cannon works. * 

LoMAX. What! Your governor's shop! 

Sarah. Yes. 

LoMAZ. Oh I say! 

Cuains enters in poor condition. He also starts visibly 
when he sees Barbara without her uniform. 

Barbara. I expected you this mommg, Dolly. Didnt 
you guess that? 

CusiNs (sitting down beside her). I'm sorry. I have 
only just breakfasted. 

Sarah. But weve just finished lunch. 

Barbara. Have you had one of your bad nights? 

CusiNs. No: I had rather a good night: in fact, one 
of the most remarkable nights I have ever passed. 

Barbara. The meeting? 

CusiNs. No: after the meeting. 

Lady Britomart. You should have gone to bed after 
the meeting. What were you doing? 

CusiNs. Drinking. 

Lady Britomart. 




(Adolphus ! 
Oh I say ! 

Lady Britomart. What were you drinking, may I 

CusiNs. A most devilish kind of Spanish burgundy, 
warranted free from added alcohol: a Temperance bur- 
gundy in fact. Its richness in natural alcdbol made any 
addition superfluous. 

Barbara. Are you joking, Dolly? 
CusiNs (patiently). No. I have been making a night 
of it with the nominal head of this household : that is all. 
Lady Britomart. Andrew made you drimk ! 
CusiNs. No: he only provided the wine. I think it 
was Dionysos who made me drunk. (To Barbara.) I 
told you I was possessed. 

Act m Major Barbara 119 

Lady Britomabt. Youre not sober yet. Go home to 
bed at once. ^ 

CusiNs. I have never before ventured to reproach 
you^ Lady Brit; but how could you marry the Prince of 
Darkness ? 

Lady Britomart. It was . much more excusable to 
marry him than to get drunk with him. That is a new 
accomplishment of Andrew's^ by the way. He usent to 

CusiNs. He doesnt now. He only sat there and com- 
pleted the wreck of my moral basis^ the rout of my 
convictions^ the purchase of my soul. He cares for you^ 
Barbara. That is what makes him so dangerous to me. 

Barbara. That has nothing to do with it^ Dolly. 
Ther^re larger loves and diviner dreams than the fire- 
side ones. You know that, dont you.^ 

CusiNs. Yes: that is our understanding. I know it. 
I hold to it. Unless he can win me on that holier ground 
he may. amuse me for a while; but he can get no deeper 
hold, strong as he is. 

Barbara. Keep to that; and the end will be right. 
Now tell me what happened at the meeting? 

CusiNS. It was an amazing meeting. Mrs. Baines 
almost died of emotion. Jenny Hill went stark mad 
with hysteria. The Prince of Darkness played his trom- 
bone like a madman: its brazen roarings were like the 
laughter of the damned. 117 conversions took place 
then and there. They prayed with the most touching 
sincerity and gratitude for Bodger, and for the anony- 
mous donor of the £5000, Your father would not let 
his name be given. 

LoMAz. That was. rather fine of the old man, you 
know. Most chaps would have wanted the advertisement. 

CusiNs. He said all the charitable institutions would 
be down on him like kites on a battle field if he gave his 

Lady Britomart. Thats Andrew oil over. He never 

120 Major Barbara Act in 

(does a proper thing without giving an improper reason 
for it. 
CusiKs. He convinced me that I have all my life been 
doing improper things for proper reasons. 

Lady Britomart. Adolphns: now that Barbara has 
left the Salvation Army^ you had better leave it too. I 
will not have you playing that drum in the streets. 

CusiNs. Your orders are already obeyed. Lady Brit. 

Barbara. Dolly: were you ever really in earnest 
about it.^ Would you have joined if you had never seen 

CusiNs (disingenuously). Well — er — ^well, possibly, 
as a collector of religions — 

LoMAX (cunningly). Not as a drummer, thoudb, you 
know. You are a very clearheaded brainy chap, fi^olly; 
and it must have been apparent to you that there is a 
certain amount of tosh about — 

. Lady Britomart. Charles : if you must drivel, drivel 
like a grown-up man and not like a schoolboy. 

LoMAX (out of countenance). Well, drivel is drivel, 
dont you know, whatever a man's age. 

Lady Britomart. In good society in England, 
Charles, men drivel at all ages by repeating silly for- 
mulas with an air of wisdom. Schoolboys make their 
own formulas out of slang, like you. When they reach 
your age, and get political private secretaryships and 
things of that sort, they drop slang and get their for- 
mulas out of The Spectator or The Times. You had 
better confine yourself to The Times. You will find 
that there is a certain amount of tosh about The Times; 
but at least its language is reputable. 

LoMAX (overwhelmed). You are so awfully strong- 
minded. Lady Brit — 

Lady Britomart. Rubbish! (Morrison comes in.) 
What is it? 

Morrison. If you please, my lady, Mr. Undershaft 
has just drove up to the door. 

Act m Major Barbara 121 

Ladt Britomart. Well^ let him in. (MorrUan hen- 
totes,) Whats the matter with you? 

Morrison. Shall I amiomice him^ my lady; or ii he 
at home here^ so to speak, my lady? 

Lady Britomart. Annomice him. 

Morrison. Thank you^ my lady. Yon wont mind my 
asking, I hope. The occasion is in a manner of speaking 
new to me. 

Lady Britomart. Qnite right. Go and let him in. 

Morrison. Thank you, my lady. {He withdraws,) 

Lady Britomart. Children: go and get ready. 
{Sarah and Barbara go upstairs for their out-of-door 
wraps,) Charles: go and tell Stephen to^ come. down 
here in five minutes: you will find him in the drawmg 
room. {Charles goes,) Adolphus: tell them to send 
round the carriage in ahout fifteen minutes. {Adolphti 

Morrison {at the door). Mr. Undershaft. 

Vndershaft comes in, Morrison goes out. 
^ Undershaft. Alone! How fortunate! 

Lady Britomart {rising), Dont be sentimental, An- 
drew. Sit down. {She sits on the settee: he sits beside 
her, on her left. She comes to the point before he has 
time to breathe,) Sarah must have £B00 a year until 
Charles Lomax comes into his property. Barbara will 
need more, and need it permanently, because Adolphus 
hasnt any property. 
^^ Undbrshaft {resignedly)^ Yes, my dear: I will see 
to it. Anything else? for yourself, for instance? 

Lady Britomart. I want to talk to you about 
,^ Undershaft {rather wearUtf). Dont^ my dear. 
Stephen doesnt interest me. 

Lady Britomart. He does interest me. He is our 
^^ Undershaft. Do you really think so? He has in- 
duced us to bring himiinto the world; but he chose his 

122 Major Barbara Act m 

parents very incongruously, I think. I see nothing of 
myself in him^ and less of you. 

Lady Britomart. Andrew: Stephen is an excellent 
son^ and a most steady^ capable, highminded young man. 
You are simply trying to find an excuse for disinheriting 
^ Undershaft. My dear Biddy: the Undershaft tradi- 
tion disinherits him. It would be dishonest of me to 
leave the cannon foundry to my son. 

Lady Britomart. It would be most unnatural and 
improper of you to leave it anyone else, Andrew. Do 
you suppose this wicked and immoral tradition can be 
kept up for ever? Do you pretend that Stephen could 
not carry on the foundry just as well as all the other 
sons of the big business houses? 
» Undbrshaft. Yes: he could learn the office routine 
without understanding the business, like all the other 
sons; and the firm would go on by its own momentum 
until the real Undershaft — probably an Italian or a Ger- 
man — ^would invent a new method and cut him out. 

Lady Britomart. There is nothing that any Italian 
or German could do that Stephen could not do. And 
Stephen at least has breeding. 
^ Undershaft. The son of a foundling ! nonsense ! 

Lady Britomart. My son, Andrew! And even you 
may have good blood in your veins for all you know. 
^«#. Undershaft. True. Probably I have. That is an- 
other argument in favor of a foundling. 

Lady Britomart. Andrew: dont be aggravating. 
And dont be wicked. At present you are both, 
'•i^ Undershaft. This conversation is part of the Un- 
dershaft tradition, Biddy. Every Undershaf t's wife has 
treated him to it ever since the house was founded. It 
is mere waste of breath. If the tradition be ever broken 
it will be for an abler man than Stephen. 

Lady Britomart {pouting). Then go away. ■• 
^^ Undershaft {deprecatory)* Go away! 

Act m Major Barbara 128 

Ladt Britomart. Yes: go away. If you will do 
nothing for Stephen^ you are not wanted here. Go to 
your foundlings whoever he is; and look after him. 

^ UxDERSHAFT. The f act is, Biddy — 

Ladt Britomart. Dont call me Biddy. I dont call 
you Andy. 

^^ Undershaft. I will not call my wife Britomart: it 
is not good sense. Seriously, my love, the Undershaft 
tradition has landed me in a difficulty. I am getting on 
in years; and my partner Lazarus has at last made a 
stand and insisted that the succession must be settled 
one way or the other; and of course he is quite right* 
You see, I havnt found a fit successor yet. 

Lady Britomart {ph%ixnaitly). There is Stephen. 

^^^ Undershaft. Thats just it: all the foundlings I can 
find are exactly like Stephen. 
Ladt Britomart. Andrew!! 

.^p^. Undershaft. I want a man with no relations and no 
schooling: that is, a man who would be out of the run- 
ning altogether if he were not a strong man. And I 
cant find him. Every blessed foundling nowadays is 
snapped up in his infancy by Barnardo homes, or School 
Board officers, or Boards of Guardians; and if he shews 
the least ability, he is fastened on by schoolmasters; 
trained to win scholarships like a racehorse; crammed 
with secondhand ideas ; drilled and disciplined in docility 
and what they call good taste; and lamed for life so 
that he is fit for nothing but teaching. If you want to 
keep the foundry in the family, you had better find an 
eligible foundling and marry him to Barbara. 

Ladt Britomart. Ah! Barbara! Your pet! You 
would sacrifice Stephen to Barbara. 
^ Undershaft. Cheerfully. And you, my dear, would 
boil Barbara to make soup for Stephen. 

Ladt Britomart. Andrew: this is not a question of 
our likings and dislikings: it is a question of duty. It 
is your duty to make Stephen your successor. 


124 Major Barbara Act m 

• Ukdkrshaft. Just as much as it is your duty to 
submit to your husband. Come^^ Biddy ! these tricks of 
the governing class are of no use with me. I am one 
of the governing class myself; and it 'is waste of time 
giving tracts to a missionary. I have the power in this 
matter; and I am not to be humbugged into using it for 
your purposes. 

Ladt Britomart. Andrew: you can talk my head 
off; but you cant change wrong into right. And your 
tie is all on one side. Put it straight. 

Undxrshaft (disconcerted). It wont stay unless it's 
pinned — (he fumbles at it with childish grimaces). 

Stephen comes in. 

Stephen (at the door). I beg your pardon (about to 

Lapy Britomart. No: come in^ Stephen. (Stephen 
eomes forward to his mother^ s writing table.) 
mh^Undsrshaft (not very cordially). Good afternoon. 

Stephen (coldly). Good afternoon. 
""^Undershaft (to Lady Britomart). He knows all 
about the tradition^ I suppose? 

Lady Britomart. Yes. (To Stephen.) It is what I 
told you last nighty Stephen. 

«HLJnder8haft (sulkily). I understand you want to 
come into the cannon business. 

Stephen. I go into trade ! Certainly not 
"""^NDERSHAFT (opening his eyes, greatly eased in mind 
and manner). Oh! in that case — ! 

Lady Britomart. Cannons are not trade^ Stephen. 
They are enterprise. 

Stephen. I have no intention of becoming a man 
of business in any sense. I have no capacity for busi- 
ness and no taste for it. I intend to devote myself to 

«»Undbrshaft (rising). My dear boy: this is an im- 
mense relief to me. And I trust it may prove an equally 
good thing for the country. I was afraid you would 

Act m Major Barbara 125 

consider yourself disparaged and slighted. (He moves 
towards Stephen as if to shake hands with him,) 

Lady Britomart (rising and interposing). Stephen: 
I cannot allow you to throw away an enormous property 
like this. 

Stephen (stiffly). Mother: there must be an end of 
treating me as a child^ if you please. (Lady Britomart 
recoils, deeply wounded hy his tone.) Until last night 
I did not take your attitude seriously, because I did not 
think you meant it seriously. But I find now that 
you left me in the dark as to matters which you should 
have explained to me years ago. I am extremely hurt 
and offended. Any fiurther discussion of my intentions 
had better take place with my father, as between one 
man and another. 

Lady Britomart. Stephen! {She sits down again; 
and her eyes fill with tears.) 

^^mUndershaft (mith grave compassion;. You see^ my 
dear, it is only the big men who can be treated as chil- 

Stephen. I am sorry, mother, that yon hare forced 
me — 

„^NDERSHAFT (stopping him). Yes, yes, yes, yes: 
thats all right, Stephen. She wont interfere with you 
any more: your independence is achieved: you have 
won your latchkey^ Dont rub it in; and above all, dont 
apologize. (He resumes his seat) Now what about 
your future, as between one man and another — I 
beg your pardon, Biddy: as between two men and 
a woman. 

Lady Britomart (who has pulled herself together 
strongly). I quite understand, Stephen. By all means 
go your own way if you feel strong enough. (Stephen 
sits down magisterially in the chair at the writing table ^ 
with an air of affirming his majority.) 
^LJndershaft. It is settled that yoa do not ask for 
toe succession to the cannon business. 


126 Major Barbara Act HE 

Stephbn. I hope it is settled that I repudiate the 
cannon business. 

'imiUndbrshaft. Come^ come! dont be so devilishly 
sulky: it's boyish. Freedom should be g^erous. Be- 
sides, I owe you a fair start in life in exchange for 
disinheriting you. You cant become prime minister all 
at once. Havnt you a turn for something? What about 
literature^ art and so forth .^ 

Stephen. I have nothing of the artist about me, 
either in faculty or character^ thank Heaven ! 
nM^NDERSHAFT. A philosophcr^ perhaps? Eh? 
Stephen. I make no such ridiculous pretension. 

yJi^DERSHAFT. Just SO. WcU^ there is the army^ the 
navy, the Church, the fiar. The Bar requires some abil- 
ity. What about the Bar? 
^-^ Stephen. I have not studied law. And I am afraid 

I have not the necessary push — I believe that is the 
name barristers give to their vulgarity — for success in 

^h^Undershaft. Rather a difficult case, Stephen. Hardly 
anything left but the stage, is there? (Stephen makes 
an impatient movement.) Well, come! is there any- 
thing you know or care for? 
f Stephen {rising and looking at him steadily) » I 
\ know the difference between right and wrong. 

**1Indershaft (hugely tickled) » You dont say so! 
What! no capacity for business, no knowledge of law, 
no sympathy with art, no pretension to philosophy; only 
a simple knowledge of the secret that has puzzled aU 
thq philosophers, baffled all the lawyers, muddled all 
the men of business, and ruined most of the artists: the 
secret of right and wrong. Why, man, youre a genius, 
a master of masters, a god ! At twenty-four, too ! 

Stephen (keeping his temper with difficulty). You 
are pleased to be facetious. I pretend to nothing more 
than any honorable English gentleman claims as 
birthright (he sits down angrily). 

Act in Major Barbara 127 

^^JTDERSHAFT. Oh, thats everybody's birthright. Look 
at poor little Jenny Hill, the Salvation lassie ! she would 
think you were lauding at her if you asked her to 
stand up in the street and teach grammar or geography 
or mathematics or even drawingroom dancing; but it 
never occurs to her to doubt that she can teach morals 
and religion. You are all alike, you respectable people. 
You cant tell me the bursting strain of a ten-inch gun, 
which is a very simple matter; but you all think you can 
tell me the bursting strain of a man under temptation. 
You darent handle high explosives; but youre all ready 
to handle honesty and truth and justice and the whole 
duty of man, and kill one another at that game. What 
a country! what a world! ^ 

Ladt Britomart (uneaaily). What do you think he 
had better do, Andrew? 

^i^iCIndershaft. Oh, just what he wants to do. He 
knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That 
points clearly to a political career. Get him a private 
secretaryship to someone who can get him an Under 
Secretaryship; and then leave li^m alone. He will find 
his natural and proper place in the end on the Treasury 

Stephen (springing up again), I am sorry, sir, that 
you force me to forget the respect due to you as my 
father. I am an Englishman; and I will not hear the 
Government of my country insulted. {He thrusts his 
hands in his pockets, and walks angrily across to the 

Undershaft {with a touch of brutality). The gov- 
ernment of your country ! I am the government of your 
country: I, and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and 
balf a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that 
foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus ? 
No, my friend: you will do what pays us. You will 
mAke war when it suits us, and keep peace when ft 
doesnt. Yon will £nd out that trade requires certain 

128 Major Barbara Acr m 

measures when we have decided on those m 
When I want anything to keep my dividends 
wOl discover that my want is a national need, 
other people want something to keep my dividends 
you will call out the police and military. And in return 
you shall have the support and applause of my news- 
papers, and the delight of imagining that you are a great 
statesman. Government of your country! Be off with 
you, my boy^ and play with your caucuses and leading 
articles and historic parties and great leaders and burn- 
ing questions and the rest of your toys. I am going 
back to my counting house to pay the piper and call the 

Stssphin (actually §miling, and putting his hand on 
his father's shoulder with indulgent patronage). Really, 
my dear father, it is impossible to be angry with you. 
You don't know how absurd all this sounds to m e. You 
are very properly proud of having been industrious 
enough to make money; and it is greatly to your credit 
that you have made so much of it. But ^it has kept you 
in circles where you are valued for your money and 
deferred to for it, instead of in the doubtless very old- 
fashioned and behind-the-times public school and uni- 
versity where I formed my habits of mind. It is natural 
for you to think that money governs England; but you 
must allow me to think I know better. 
.. Ukdxrshaft. And what does govern England, 

Stephen. Character, father, character. 

Ukdershaft. Whose character? Yours or mine? 

Stephen. Neither yours nor mine, father, but the 
best elements in the English national character. 
y Undershaft. Stephen: Ive found your profession 
for you. Youre a bom journalist. I'll start you with a 
high-toned weekly review. There! 

Stephen goes to the smaller writing table amd h 
himself with his letters. 

Act m Major Barbara 129 

h, Barbara, Lomax, and Cusim come in ready for 
\g. Barbara crosses the room to the window and 
out. Cusins drifts amiably to the armchair, and 
remains near the door, whilst Sarah comes to her 

Sarah. Go and get ready^ mamma: the carriage is 
waiting. {Lady Britomart leaves the room,) 
^..Undsrshaft {to Sarah). Good day, my dear. Good 
afternoon^ Mr. Lomaz. 

LoMA2 {vaguely). Ahdedoo. 
M^ Undershaft {to Cusins). Quite well after last nighty 
Euripides, eh? 

CusiNs. As well as can be expected. 
*" Undershaft. Thats right. {To Barbara.) So you 
are coming to see my^ death and devastation factory, 

Barbara {at the window). You came yesterday to 
see my salvation, factory. I promised you a return visit. 
Loll AX {coming forward between Sarah and Under- 
shaft). Youll find it awfully interesting. Ive been 
through the Woolwich Arsenal; and it gives you a rip- 
ping feeling of security, you know, to think of the lot 
of beggars we could kill if it came to fighting. {To 
Undershaft, witl^ sudden solemnity.) Still, it must be 
rather an awful reflection for you, from the religious 
point of view as it were. Youre getting on, you know, 
and all that. 

Sarah. You dont mind Cholly's imbecility, papa, do 

LoMAX {much taken aback). Oh I say! 
.^^Undsrshaft. Mr. Lomax looks at the matter in a 
very proper spirit, my dear. 

Lomax. Just so. Thats all I meant, I assure you. 
Sarah. Are you coming,. Stephen? 

BK^ Well^ I ^^ rather busy — cr — {Magnani" 
ly.) Oh well, yes: I'll come. That is, if there is 
for me. 


130 Major Barbara Act m 

^ Undershaft. I can take two with me in 
motor I am experimenting with for field use. Y< 
mind its beiifg rather mif ashionable. It's not 
yet; but it's bullet proof. 

LoMAz (appalled at the prospect of confronting WU^ 
ton Crescent in an unpainted motor). Oh I say! 

Sarah. The carriage for me^ thank you. Barbara 
doesnt mind what shes seen in. 

LoMAZ. I say^ Dolly old chap: do you really mind 
the car being a guy? Because of course if you do I'll 
go in it. Still — 

CusiNs. I prefer it. 

LoMAz. Thanks awfully^ old man. Come, Sarah. 
{He hurries out to secure his seat in the carriage. Sarah 
follows him,) ^ 

Cusixs {moodily rvalking across to Lady Britomart's 
writing table). Why are we two coming to this Works 
Department of Hell? that is what I ask myself. 

Barbara. I have always thought of it as a sort of 
pit where lost creatures with blackened faces stirred up 
smoky fires and were driven and tormented by my father? 
Is it like that^ dad? 
^ Undershaft (scandalised). My dear! It is a spot- 
lessly clean and beautiful hillside town. 

Cusixs. With a Methodist chapel? Oh do say 
iheres a Methodist chapel. 
^.. Undershaft. There are two: a Primitive one and a 
sophisticated one. There is even an Ethical Society; but 
it is not much patronized, as my men are all strongly 
religious. In the High Explosives Sheds they object to 
the presence of Agnostics as unsafe. 

CusiNs. And yet they dont object to you! 

Barbara. Do they obey all your orders? 
^ Undershaft. I never give them any orderSj,J When 
I speak to one of them it is " Well, Jones, is 
doing well? and has Mrs. Jones made a good re< 
" Nicely, thank you, sir." And thats aU. 

Major Barbara 181 

8. But Jones has to be kept in order. How do 
aintain discipline among yonr men? 
ERSHAFT. I dont. They do. Yon see^ the one 
thing Jones wont stand is any rebellion from the man 
under him^ or any assertion of social equality between 
the wife of the man with 4 shillings a week less than 
himself^ and Mrs. Jones! Of course they all rebel 
against me, theoretically. Practically, every man of 
them keeps the man just below him in his place. I 
never meddle with them. I never bully them. I dont 
even bully Lazarus. I say that certain things are to be 
done; but I dont order anybody to do them. I dont say, 
mind you, that there is no ordering about and snubbing 
and even bullying. The men snub the boys and order 
them about; the carmen snub the sweepers; the artisans 
snub the unskilled laborers; the foremen drive and bully 
both the laborers and artisans; the assistant engineers 
find fault with the foremen; the chief engineers drop 
on the assistants; the departmental managers worry the 
chiefs ; and the clerks have tall hats and hymnbooks and 
keep up the social tone by refusing to associate on equal 
terms with anybody. The result is a colossal profit, 
which comes to me. 

CusiNs (revolted). You really are a — ^well, what I 
was saying yesterday. 

Barbara. What was he saying yesterday? 
^ Undkrshaft. Never mind, my dear. He thinks I 
have made you unhappy. Have I? 

Barbara. Do you think I can be happy in this vulgar 
silly dress? I! who have worn the uniform. Do you 
understand what you have done to me ? Yesterday I had 
a man's soul in my hand. I set him in the way of life 
with his face to salvation. But when we took your 
^y he turned back to drunkenness and derision. 
h intense conviction,) I will never forgive you 
If I had a child, and you destroyed its body with 
explosives-^if you mtirdered Dolly with your hor- 

182 Major Barbara Act in 

rible gxms — I could forgive you if my forgiveness would 
open the gates of heaven to you. But to take a human 
soul from me^ and turn it into the soul of a wolf! that 
is worse than any murder. 
^ Undersuaft. Does my daughter despair so easily? 
Can you strike a man to the heart and leave no mark on 

Barbara {Jker face lighting up). Oh^ you are right: 
he can never be lost now: where was my faith? 

CusiNs. Oh, clever clever devil! 

Barbara. You may be a. devil; but God speaks 
through you sometimes. (She takes her father's hands 
and kisses them.) You have given me back my happi- 
ness: I feel it deep down now^ though my spirit is 
y^. Und^rshaft. You have learnt something. That al- 
ways feels at first as if you had lost something. 

Barbara. Well, take me to the factory of death, and 
let me learn something more. There must be some truth 
or other behind all this frightful irony. Come, Dolly. 
{She goes out.) 

CusiNs. My guardian angel! (To Undershaft.) 
Avaunt! (He follows Barbara.) 

Stephen (quietly, at the writing table). You must not 

mind Cusins, father. He is a very amiable good fellow; 

but he is a Greek scholar and naturally a little eccentric. 

^ Un0Ershaft. Ah, quite so. Thank you, Stephen. 

Thank you. (He goes out.) 

Stephen smiles patronizingly j buttons his coat re- 
sponsibly; and crosses the room to the door. Lady 
Britomart, dressed for out^f -doors, opens it before he 
reaches it. \She looks round for the others; looks at 
Stephen; ana\tums to go without a word. 

Stephen (embarrassed). Mother — 

Lady Britomart. Dont be apologetic, Stephen. And 
dont forget that you have outgrown your mother. (She 
goes out.) 

Act m Major Barbara 183 

Perivale St Andrews lies between two Middlesex hills, 
half climbing the northern one. It is an almost smoke- 
less town of white walls, roofs of narrow green slates or 
red tiles, tall trees, domes, campaniles, and slender chim- 
ney shafts, beautifully situated and beautiful in itself. 
The best view of it is obtained from the crest of a slope 
about half a mile to the east, where the high explosives 
are dealt with. The foundry lies hidden in the depths 
between, the tops of its chimneys sprouting like huge 
skittles into the middle distance. Across the crest runs 
a platform of concrete, with a parapet which suggests a 
fortification, because there' is a huge cannon of the 
obsolete Woolwich Infant pattern peering across it at 
the town. The cannon is mounted on an experimental 
gun carriage: possibly the original model of the Under- 
shaft disappearing rampart gun alluded to by Stephen. 
The parapet has a high step inside which serves as a seat. 

Barbara is leaning over the parapet, looking towards 
the town. On her right is the cannon; on her left the 
end of a shed raised on piles, with a ladder of three or 
four steps up to the door, which opens outwards and 
has a little wooden landing at the threshold, with a fire 
bucket in the comer of the landing. The parapet stops 
short of the shed, leaving a gap which is the beginning 
of the path down the hill through the foundry to the 
town. Behind the cannon is a trolley carrying a huge 
conical bombshell, with a red band painted on it. Fur- 
ther from the parapet, on the same side, is a deck chair, 
near the door of an office, which, like the sheds, is of the 
lightest possible construction. 

Cusins arrives by the path from the town. 

Barbara. Well? 

Cusins. Not a ray of hope. Everything perfect, 
wonderful^ real. It only needs a cathedral to be a 
heavenly city instead of a hellish one. 

Barbara. Have you found out whether they have 
done anything for old Peter Shirley. 

184i Major Barbara Act m 

CusiNS. They have found him a job as gatekeeper 
and timekeeper. He's frightfully miserable. He calls 
the timekeeping brainwork^ and says he isnt used to it; 
ard his gate lodge is so splendid that hes ashamed to use 
the rooms^ and skulks in the scullery. 

Barbara. Poor Peter! 

Stephen arrives from the town. He carries a field- 

^ Stefuehj' (enthusiastically). Have you two seen the 
place? Why did you leave us? 

CusiNs./ I wanted to see everything I was not in- 
tended to see; and Barbara wanted to make the men talk. 

Stbph|:n. Have you found anything discreditable? 

CusiNS. No. They, call hitn Dandy Andy and are 
proud of his being a cunning old rascal ; but it's all 
horribly, frightfully, immorally, unanswerably perfect. 

Sarafi arrives, 

Sarah. Heavens ! what a place ! {She crosses to the 
trollev,) Did you see the nursing home!? (She sits 
down on the shell,) 

Stephen. Did you see the libraries and schools ! ? 

Sarah. Did you see the ball room and the banqueting 
chamber in the Town Hall!? 

Stephen. Have you gone into the insurance fund, 
the pension fund, the building society, the various ap- 
plications of cotoperation ! ? 

Undershaft comes from the office, with a sheaf of 
telegrams in his hands, 
—• Undershaft. Well, have you seen everything? I'm 
sorry I was called aw£ly. (Indicating the telegrams,) 
News from Manchuria. 

Stephen. Good news, I hope. 
^^ Undershaft. Very. 

Stephi^n. Another Japanese victory? 
«# Undershaft. Oh, I dont know. Which side wins 
does not concern us here. No : the good news is that the 
aerial battleship is a tremendous success. At the first 

AcjT m Major Barbara 185 

trial it has wiped out a fort with three hundred soldiers 
in it. 

CusiNs {from the platform). Dummy soldiers? 
^ Undershaft. No: the real thing. (jCusins and BiUT" 
hara exchange glances. Then Cusins sits on the st^ 
and buries his face in his hands, Barbara gravely lays 
her hand on his shoulder, and he looks up at her in a 
sort of whimsical desperation,) WeU^ 'S^fepbttl^ what do 
you. th»k-*«f^ th^ 4il%ce } 

• ^-^SgHf HajN. Oh^ magnificent. A perfect triumph of 
organization. Frankly^ my dear father^ I have been a 
fool: I had no idea of what it all meant — of the won- 
derful forethought^ the power of organization^ the ad- 
ministrative capacity^ the financial genius^ the colossal 
capital it represents. I have been, repeating to myself 
as I came through your streets " Peace hath her victories 
no less renowned than War." I have only one misgiving 
about it all. ' 

— ^JisxftSHAirT. Out with it 

• S«BFHiUjr. Well^ I cannot help thinking that all this 
provision for every want of your workmen may sap their 
independence and weaken their sense of responsibility. 
And greatly as we enjoyed our tea at that splendid 
restaurant — ^how they gave us all that luxury and cake 
and jam and cream for threepence I really cannot imag- 
ine ! — still you must remember that restaurants break up 
home life. Look at the continent^ for instance! Are 
you sure so much pampering is really good for the men's 
characters ? 

^ .. Undershaft. Well you see, my dear "boy, when you 
are organizing civilization you have to make up your 
mind whether trouble and anxiety are good things or 
not. If you decide that they are, then, I take it, you 
simply dont organize civilization; and there you are, 
with trouble and anxiety enough to make us all angels! 
But if you decide the other way, you may as well go 
through with it. However, Stephen, our characters are 

136 Major Barbara Act in 

safe here. A sufficient dose of anxiety is always pro- 
vided by the fact that we may be blown to smitibereens 
at any moment. 

Sarah. By the way^ P^pa^ where do you make the 
* explosives } 

^ Undershaft. In separate little sheds^ like that one. 
When one of them blows up, it costs very little; and 
only the people quite close to it are killed. 

Stephen, who is quite close to it, looks at it rather 
scaredly, and moves away quickly to the cannon. At 
the same moment the door of the shed is thrown abruptly 
open; and a foreman in overalls and list slippers comes 
out on the little landing and holds the door open for 
Lomax, who appears in the doorway, 

LoMAx {with studied coolness^. My good fellow: you 
neednt get into a state of nerves. Nothing's going to 
happen to you; and I suppose it wouldnt be the end of 
the world if anything did. A litUe bit of British pluck 
is what you want, old chap. {He descends and strolls 
across to Sarah,) 
.^ Undershaft (to the foreman). Anything wrongs 

BiLTON {with ironic calm). Gentleman walked into 
the high explosives shed and lit a cigaret, sir: thats alL 
^ Undershaft. Ah, quite so. {To Lomax,) Do you 
happen to remember what you did with the match? 

Lomax. Oh come! I'm not a fool. I took jolly good 
care to blow it out before I chucked it away. 

Bilton. The top of it was red hot inside, sir. 

Lomax. Well, suppose it was ! I didnt chuck it into 
any of your messes. 
— Undershaft. Think no more of it, Mr. Lomax. By 
the way, would you mind lending me your matches.^ 

Lomax {offering his box). Certainly. 
^ Undershaft. Thanks. {He pockets the matches,) 

Lomax {lecturing to the company generally). You 
know, these high expbsives dont go off like gunpowder^ 

Act m Major Barbara 187 

except when theyre in a gun. When theyre spread 
loose^ you can put a match to them without the least 
risk: they just burn quietly like a bit of paper. {Warm" 
ing to the scientific interest of the subject,) Did you 
know that^ Undershaft.^ Have you ever tried? 
^ Undsrshaft. Not on a large scale^ Mr. Lomax. Bil- 
ton will give you a sample of gun cotton when you are 
leaving if you ask him. You can experiment with it at 
home. (BUton looks puzzled.) 

Sarah. Bilton will do nothing of the sort, papa. I 
suppose it's your business to blow up the Russians and 
Japs; but you might really stop short of blowing up 
poor ChoUy. (BUton gives it up and retires into the 

LoMAZ. My ownest^ there is no danger. {He sits 
beside her on the shell.) 

Lady Britomart arrives from the town with a bouquet. 

Lady Britomart (coming impetuously between Uh- 
dershaft and the deck chair). Andrew: you shouldnt 
have let me see this place. 
^ Undershaft. Whjy my dear? 

Lady Britomart. Never mind why: you shouldnt 
have: thats all. To think of all that {indicating the 
town) being yours ! and that you have kept it to yourself 
all these years! 
^ Undershaft. It does not belong to me. I belong to 
it. It is the Undershaft inheritance. 

Lady Britomart. It is not. Your ridiculous cannons 
and that noisy banging foundry may be the Undershaft 
inheritance; but all that plate and linen^ all that furni- 
ture and those houses and orchards and gardens belong 
to us. They belong to m e: they are not a man's busi- 
ness. I wont give them up. You must be out of your 
senses to throw them all away; and if you persist in 
such folly^ I will call in a doctor. 

Undershaft {stooping to smell the bouquet). Where 
did you get the flowers^ my dear? 

138 Major Barbara Actt m 

Ladt Britomart. Your men presented them to me 
in your William Morris Labor Church. 

CusiNs (springing up). Oh! It needed only that. 
A Labor Church! 

Lady Britomart. Yes, vith Morris's words in mosaic 
letters ten feet high round the dome. No man is good 
ENOUGH TO BE ANOTHER man's MASTER. The cynicism 
of it! 

Undershaft. It shocked the men at firsts I am 
afraid. But now they take no more notice of it than 
of the ten commandments in church. 

Lady Britomart. Andrew: you are trying to put me 
off the subject of the inheritance by profane jokes. 
Well, you shant. I dont ask it any longer for Stephen: 
he has inherited far too much of your perversity to be 
fit for it. But Barbara has rights as well as Stephen. 
Why should not Adolphus succeed to the inheritance.^ 
I could manage the town for him; and he can look after 
the cannons, if they are really necessary. 

Undershaft. I should ask nothing better if Adolphus 
were a foundling. He is exactly the sort of new blood 
that is wanted in £nglish business. But hes not a 
foundling; and theres an end of it. 

CusiNs {diploTnatically), Not quite. {They all turn 
and stare at him. He comes from the platform past the 
shed to Undershaft.) I think — Mind! I am not com- 
mitting myself in any way as to my future course — ^but 
I think the foundling difficulty can be got over. 

Undershaft. What do you mean? 

CusiNs. Well, I have something to say which is in 
the nature of a confession. 


Lady Britomaet. .Confession I 


LoMAx. Oh I say! 

CusiNs. Yes, a confession. Listen, all. Until I met 

Act m Major Barbara 189 

Barbara I thought myself in the main an honorable^ 
truthful man^ because I wanted the approval of my 
conscience more than I wanted anything else. But the 
moment I saw Barbara, I wanted her far more than the 
approval of my conscience. 

Lady Britomart. Adolphus! 

CusiNs. It is true. You accused me yourself. Lady 
Brit, of joining the Army to worship Barbara; and so 
I did. She bought my soul like a flower at a street cor- 
ner; but she bought it for herself. 

Undershaft. What! Not for Dionysos or. another? 

Cusixs. Dionysos and all the others are in herself. 
I adored what was divine in her, and was therefore a 
true worshipper. But I was romantic about her too. I 
thought she was a woman of the people, and that a 
marriage with a professor of Greek would be far beyond 
the wildest social ambitions of her rank. 

Lady Britomart. Adolphus!! 

LoMAx. Oh I say!!! 

CusiNS. When I learnt the horrible truth — 

Lady Britomart. What do you mean by the horrible 
truth, pray? ^ 

CusiNs. That she was enormously rich; that her 
grandfather was an earl; that her father, was the Prince 
of Darkness — 

Undershaft. Chut ! 

CusiNS. — and that I was only an adventurer trying 
to catch a rich wife, then I stooped to deceive her about 
my birth. 

Barbara. Dolly ! 

Lady Britomart. Your birth ! Now Adolphus, dont 
dare to make up a wicked story for the sake of these 
wretched cannons. Remember: I have seen photographs 
of your parents ; and the Agent General for South West- 
em Australia knows them personally and has assured 
me that they are most respectable married people. 

CusiNs. So they are in Australia; but here they are 


140 Major Barbara Act m 

outcasts. Their marriage is legal in Australia^ but not 
in England. My mother is my father's deceased wife's 
sister; and in this island I am consequently a foundling. 
{Sennation,) Is the subterfuge good enough^ Machia- 

Undershaft (thought fuUy). Biddy: this may be a 
way out of the difficulty. 

Lady Britomart. Stuff! A man cant make cannons 
any the better for being his own cousin instead of his 
proper self (she sits down in the deck chair with a 
bounce that expresses her downright contempt for their 

Undershaft (to Cusins). You are an educated man. 
That is against the tradition. 

CusiNs. Once in ten thousand times it happens that 
the schoolboy is a bom master of what they try to teach 
him. Greek has not destroyed my mind: it has nour- 
ished it. Besides^ I did not learn it at an English public 

Undershaft. Hm! Well^ I cannot afford to be too 
particular: you have cornered the foundling market. Let 
it pass. You are eligible^ Euripides : you are eligible. 

Barbara (coming from the platform and interposing 
between Cusins and Undershaft). Dolly: yesterday 
mornings when Stephen told us all about the tradition, 
you became very silent; and you have been strange and 
excited ever since. Were you thinking of your birth 

Cusins. When the finger of Destiny suddenly points 
at a man in the middle of his breakfast^ it makes him 
thoughtful. (Barbara turns away sadly and stands near 
her mother, listening perturbedly,) 

Undershaft. Aha! You have had your eye on the 
business^ my yoimg friend^ have you? 

Cusins. Take care ! There is an abyss of moral 
horror between me and your accursed laerial battle- 


Act m Major Barbara 141 

Undershaft. Never mind the abyss for the present. 
Let ns settle the practical details and leave your final 
decision open. You know that you will have to change 
your name. Do you object to that? 

CusiNs. Would any man named Adolphus — ^any man 
called Dolly! — object to be called something else? 

Undsrshaft. Good. Now^ as to money! I propose 
to treat you handsomely from the beginning. You shall 
start at a thousand a year. 

CusiNs {rviih sudden heat, his spectacles ttvtnkling 
with mischief). A thousand! You dare offer a miser- 
able thousand to the son-in-law of a millionaire! No, 
by Heavens, Machiavelli 1 you shall not cheat m e. You 
cannot do without me; and I can do without you. I 
must have two thousand five hundred a year for two 
years. At the end of that time, if I am a failure, I go. 
But if I am a success, and stay on, you must give me 
the other five thousand, 
ft Undershaft. What other five thousand? 

CusiNS. To make the two years up to five thousand a 
year. The two thousand five hundred is only half pay 
in case I should turn out a failure. The third year I 
must have ten per cent on the profits. 

Undershaft (taken aback). Ten per cent! Why, 
man, do you know what my profits are? 

CusiNs. Enormous, I hope: otherwise I shall require 
twentyfive per cent. 

Undershaft. But, Mr. Cusins, this is a serious mat- 
ter of business. You are not bringing any capital into 
the concern. 

Cusins. What! no capital! Is my mastery of Greek 
no capital? Is my access to the subtlest thought, the 
loftiest poetry yet attained by humanity, no capital? 
My character! my intellect! my life! my career! what 
Barbara calls my soul! are these no capital? Say an- 
other word; and I double my salary. 

Undershaft. Be reasonable — 


142 Major Barbara Act m 

Cusixs (peremptorily), Mr. Undershaf t : you have 
m7 terms. Take them or leave them. 

Undsrshaft (recovering himself). Very welL I 
note your terms; and I offer you half. 

CusiNs (disgusted). Half! 
^ Undsrshaft (firmly). Half. 

CusiNS. You call yourself a gentleman; and you offer 
me half!! 

Undershaft. I do not call myself a gentleman; hut 
I offer you half. 

CusiNs. This to your future partner I your successor ! 
your son-in-law! 

Barbara. You are selling your own soul, Dolly, not 
mine. Leave me out of the bargain, please. 

Undershaft. Come! I will go a step further for { 

Barbara's sake. I will give you three fifths; but that ' 

is my last word. i 

CusiNs. Done ! 

LoMAz. Done in the eye. Why, I only get eight hun- % 

dred, you know. i 

CusiNs. By the way, Mac, I am a classical scholar, } 

not an arithmetical one. Is three fifths more than half | 

or less? 

Undershaft. More, of course. 

CusiNs. I would have taken two hundred and fifty. 
How you can succeed in business when you are willing 
to pay all that money to a University don who is ob- 
viously not worth a junior clerk's wages! — ^well! What 
will Lazarus say? 

.^Undershaft. Lazarus is a gentle romantic Jew who 
cares for nothing but string quartets and stalls at fash- 
ionable theatres. He will get the credit of your rapacity 
in money matters, as he has hitherto had the credit of 
mine. You are a shark of the first order, Euripides. 
So much the better for the firm ! . 

Barbara. Is the bargain closed, Dolly? Does your | 

soul belong to him now? / 




Act in Major Barbara 143 

Cusixs. No: the price is settled: that is all. The real 
tug of war is still to come. What about the moral 

Lady Britomart. There is no moral question in the 
matter at all^ Adolphus. You must simply sell cannons 
and weapons to people whose cause is right and just^ and 
refuse them to foreigners and criminals. 
,0^^ UxDERSHAFT {determinedlif) . No : none of that. You 
must keep the iTue faith of an Armorer^ or you dont 
come in here. 

CusiNs. What on earth is the true faith of an Ar* 

Undershaft. To give arms to all men who 'offer an 
^Tionest price for them^ without respect of persons or 
principles: to aristocrat and republican^ to Nihilist and 
Tsar^ to Capitalist and Socialist^ to Protestant and 
Catholic^ to burglar and policeman, to black man white 
man and yellow man^ to all sorts and conditions^ all 
nationalities^ all faiths^ all follies^ all causes and all 
crimes. The first Undershaft wrote up in his shop if 
God gave the hand^ let not Man withhold the 
SWORD. The second wrote up all have the right to 
fight: none have the right to judge. The third 
wrote up to Man the weapon: to Heaven the vic- 
tory. The fourth had no literary turn; so he did not 
write up anything; but he sold cannons to Napoleon 
under the nose of George the Third. The fifth wrote up 


HAND. The sixths my master^ was the best of all. He 


DONE. After thatj there was nothing left for the seventh 
to say. So he wrote up^ simply^ unashamed. 

CusiNS. My good Machiavelli^ I shall certainly write 
something up on the wall; only^ as I shall write it in 
Greek, you wont be able to read it. But as to your "*i>^ 

Armorer's faith^ if I take my neck out of the noose of ^ 




144 Major Barbara Act m 

my own morality I am not going to put it into the noose 
of yours. I shall sell cannons to whom I please and 
refuse them to whom I please. So there ! 

Undsrshaft. From the moment when yon become 
•^Andrew Undershaft, you will never do as you please 
again. Dont come here lusting for power, young man. 

CusiNs. If power were my aim I should not come 
here for it. You have no power. 
^ Undershaft. None of my own, certainly. 

CusiNs. I have more power than you, more wilL Yon 
do not drive this place: it drives you. And what drives 
the place? 
. Undsbshaft (jnigmaiiccXLjf). A will of which I am 
a part 

Barbara {siarileX). Father! Do yon know what 
you are saying; or are you laying a snare for my soul? 

CusiNs. Dont listen to his metaphysics, Barbara. 
The place is driven by the most rascally part of society, 
the money hunters, the pleasure hunters, the military 
promotion hunters ; and he is their slave. 

Undershaft. Not necessarily. Remember the Ar- 
' mdrer's Faith. I will take an order from a good man 
as cheerfully as from a bad one. If you good people 
prefer preaching and shirking to buying my weapons 
and fighting the rascals, dont blame me. I can make 
cannons: I cannot make courage and conviction. Bah! 
You tire me, Euripides, with your morality mongering. 
Ask Barbara: she understands. {He suddenly takes 
Barbara's hands, and looks powerfully into her eyes.) 
Tell him, my love, what power really means. 

Barbara {hypnotized)* Before I joined the Salva- 
tion Army, I was in my own power ; and the consequence 
was that I never knew what to do with myself. When 
I joined it, I had not time enough for all the things I 
had to do. 

Undershaft {approvingly). Just so. And why was 
^^ihat, do you suppose? 


Act m Major Barbara 

Barbara. Yesterday I should have said^ because I 
was in the power of God. (She resumes her self-pos* 
session, withdrawing her hands from his with a power 
equal to his own.) But you came and shewed me that 
I was in the power of Bodger and Undershaft. Today 
I feel — oh! how can I put into words? Sarah: do you 
remember the earthquake at Cannes^ when we were little 
children ? — ^how little the surprise of the first shock mat- 
tered compared to the dread and horror of waiting for 
the second? That is how I feel in this place today, I 
stood on the rock I thought eternal; and without a word 
of warning it reeled and crumbled under me. I was 
safe with an infinite wisdom watching me^ an army 
marching to Salvation with me; and in a moment^ at a 
stroke of your pen in a cheque book^ I stood alone; and 
the heavens were empty. That was the first shock of 
tiie earthquake: I am waiting for the second. 
^^ Undershaft. Come^ come^ my daughter! dont make 
too much of your little tinpot tragedy. What do we do 
here when we spend years of work and thought and 
thousands of pounds of solid cash pn a new gun or an 
aerial battleship that turns out just a hairsbreadth wrong 
after all? Scrap it. Scrap it without wasting another 
hour or another pound on it. Well^ you have made for 
yourself something that you call a morality or a religion 
or what not. It doesnt fit the facts. Well^ scrap it. 
Scrap it and get one that does fit. That is what is wrong 
with the world at present. It scraps its obsolete steam 
engines and dynamos; but it wont scrap its old preju- 
dices and its old moralities and its old religions and its 
old political constitutions. Whats the result? In ma- 
chinery it does very well; but in morals and religion and 
politics it is working at a loss that brings it nearer 
bankruptcy every year. Dont persist in that folly. If 
your old religion broke down yesterday, get a newer and 
a better one for tomorrow. 

Barbara. Oh how gladly I would take a better one 





/j(46/ Major Barbara Act m 

to my soul! But you offer me a worse one. {Turning 
on him with sudden vehemence,) Justify yourself: shew 
me some light through the darkness of this dreadful 
place, with its beautifully clean workshops, and respect- 
able workmen, and model homes. 
^ Ukderbhaft. Cleanliness and respectability do not 
need justification, Barbara: they justify themselves. I 
see no darkness here, no dreadfulness. In your Salva- 
tion shelter I saw poverty, misery, cold and hunger. 
You gave them bread and treacle and dreams of heaven. 
I give from thirty shillings a week to twelve thousand a 
year. They find their own dreams; but I look after the 

Barbara. And their souls? 
^^ Ukderbhaft. I save their souls just as I saved yours. 

"B ARE abjl {revolted). Y o u saved my soul ! What do 
you mean? 
^ Ukderbhaft. I fed you and clothed you and housed 
you. I took care that you should have money enough to 
live handsomely — ^more than enough; so that you could 
be wasteful, careless, generous. That saved your soul 
from the seven deadly sins. 

Barbara {bewildered). The seven deadly sins! 

Ukderbhaft. Yes, the deadly seven. {Counting on 
his -fingers.) Food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respecta- 
bility and children. Nothing can lift those seven mill- 
stones from Man's neck but money; and the spirit cannot 
soar until the millstones are lifted. I lifted them from 
your spirit. I enabled Barbara to become Major Bar- 
bara ; and I saved her from the crime of poverty. 

CusiKB. Do you call poverty a crime? 

Ukdershaft. The worst of crimes. All the other 
"crimes are virtues beside it: all the other dishonors are 
chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole 
cities ; spreads horrible pestilences ; strikes dead the very 
souls of all who come within sight, sound or smell of it. 
What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a 



Act m Major Barbara /l47^ 

theft there^ a blow now and a curse then: what do they 
matter? they are only the accidents and illnesses of life: 
there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in Lon- 
don. But there are millions of poor people^ abject 
people, dirty people, ill fed, ill clothed people. They 
poison us morally and physically : they kill the happiness 
of society: they force us to do away with our own liber- 
ties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they 
should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss. 
Only fools fear crime : we all fear poverty. Pah ! (turn- 
ing on Barbara) you talk of your half-saved ruffian in 
West Ham: you accuse me of dragging his soul back to 
perdition. Well, bring him to me here; and I will drag 
his soul back again to salvation for you. Not by words 
and dreams ; but by thirtyeight shillings a week, a sound 
house in a handsome street, and a permanent job. In 
three weeks he will have a fancy waistcoat; in three 
months a tall hat and a chapel sitting; before the end 
of the year he will shake hands with a duchess at a 
Primrose League meeting, and join the Conservative 

Barbara. And will he be the better for that? 

Undershaft. You know he will. Dont be a hypo- 
crite, Barbara. He will be better fed, better housed, 
better clothed, better behaved; and his children will be 
pounds heavier and bigger. That will be better than an 
American cloth mattress in a shelter, chopping firewood, 
eating bread and treacle, and being forced to kneel down 
from time to time to thank heaven for it: knee drill, I 
think you call it. It is cheap work converting starving 
, men with a Bible in one hand and a slice of bread in ^ 

[ the other. I will undertake to convert West Ham to [/^ 

Mahometanism on the same terms. Try your hand on 
m y men: their souls are hungry because their bodies are 

Barbara* And leave the east end to starve? 

Unbershaft {his energetic tone dropping into one of 



Major Barbara Act m 

.. bitter and brooding rememhrance). J was an east ender. I 
moralized and starved until one day I swore that I would 
be a full-fed free man at all costs — ^that nothing should 
stop me except a bullet, neither reason nor morals nor 
the lives of other men. I said " Thou shalt starve ere 
I starve " ; and with that word I became free and great. 
I was a dangerous man until I had my will: now I am 
a useful, beneficent^ kindly person. That is the history 
of most self-made millionaires, I fancy. When it is 
the history of every Englishman we shall have an Eng- 
land worth living in. 

Lady Britomart. Stop making speeches, Andrew. 
This is not the place for tjiem. 
.^ Undershaft (punctured). My dear: I have no other 
means of conveying my ideas. 

Lady Britomart. Your ideas are nonsense. You got 
on because you were selfish ajid unscrupulous. 
««. Undershaft. Not at alL I had the strongest scruples 
about poverty and starvation. Your moralists are quite 
unscrupulous about both: they make virtues of them. I 
had rather be a thief than a pauper. I had rather be a 
murderer than a slave. I dont want to be either; but if 
you force the alternative on me, then, by Heaven, 1*11 
choose the braver and more moral one. I hate poverty 
and slavery worse than any other crimes whatsoever. 
And let me tell you this. Poverty and slavery have stood 
up for centuries to your sermons and leading articles: 
they will not stand up to my machine guns. Dont preach 
at tiiem: dont reason with them. Kill them. 

Barbara. Killing. Is that your remedy for every- 

Undershaft. It is the final test of conviction, the 
only lever strong enough to overturn a social system, the 
only way of saying Must. Let six hundred and seventy 
fools loose in the street; and three policemen can scatter 
them. But huddle them together in a certain house in 
Westminster; and let them go through certain ceremonies 

" i 

Act in Major Barbara (l4 

and call themselves certain names mitil at last they get 
the courage to kill; and your six hmidred and seventy 
fools become a government. Your pious mob fills up 
ballot papers and imagines it is governing its masters; 
but the ballot paper that really governs is the paper that 
has a bullet wrapped up in it. 

CusiNS. That is perhaps why^ like most intelligent 
people, I never vote. 
J^ Undershaft. Vote ! Bah ! When you vote, you only 
change the names of the cabinet. When you shoot, you 
pull down governments, inaugurate new epochs, abolish 
old orders and set up new. Is that historically true, Mr. 
Learned Man, or is it not.^ 

CusiNs. It is historically true. I loathe having to 
admit it. I repudiate your sentiments. I abhor your 
nature. I defy you in every possible way. Still, it is 
true. But it ought not to be true. 

Undershaft. Ought, ought, ought, ought, ought! 
Are you going to spend your life saying ought, like the 
rest of our moralists? Turn your oughts into shalls, 
man. Come and make explosives with me. Whatever 
can blow men up can blow society up. The history of 
the world is the history of those who had courage enough 
to embrace this truth. Have you the courage to embrace 
it, Barbara? 

Lady Britomart. Barbara, I positively forbid you 
to listen to your father's abominable wickedness. And 
you, Adolphus, ought to know better than to go about 
saying that wrong things are true. What does it matter 
whether they are true if they are wrong? 

Undershaft. What does it matter whether they are 
"*^wrong if they are true? 

Lady Britomart {rising). Children: come home in- 
stantly. Andrew: I am exceedingly sorry I allowed you to 
call on us. You are wickeder than ever. Come at once. 

Barbara (shaking her head). It's no use running 
away from wicked people^ mamnuu 

150 Major Barbara Act m 

Lady Britomart. It is every use. It shews your 
disapprobation of them. 

Barbara. It does not save them. 

Ladt 'Britomart. I can see that you are going to 
disobey me. Sarah: are you coming home or are you 

Sarah. I daresay it's very wicked of papa to make 
cannons; but I dont think I shall cut him on that ac- 

LoMAX {pouring oil on the troubled waters). The 
fact is^ you know^ there is a certain amount of tosh about 
this notion of wickedness. It doesnt work. You must 
look at facts. Not that I would say a word in favor of 
anything wrong; but then^ you see, all sorts of chaps 
are always doing all sorts of things; and we have to 
fit them in somehow, dont you know. What I mean is 
that you cant go cutting everybody; and thats about 
what it comes to. (Their rapt attention to his eloquence 
makes him nervous,) Perhaps I dont make myself clear. 

Ladt Britomart. You are lucidity itself, Charles. 
Because Andrew is successful and has plenty of money 
to give to Sarah, you will flatter him and encourage him 
in his wickedness. 

LoMAz (unruffled). Well, where the carcase is, there 
will the eagles be gathered, dont you know. (To Under- 
shaft.) Eh? What? 
^, Undbrshaft. Precisely. By the way, may I call 
you Charles? 

LoMAX. Delighted. Cholly is the usual ticket. 
^ Undershaft (to Lady Britomart), Biddy — 

Ladt Britomart (violently), Dont dare call me 
Biddy. Charles Lomax: you are a fool. Adolphus 
Cusins : you are a Jesuit. Stephen: you are a prig. Bar- 
bara: you are a lunatic. Andrew: you are a vulgar 
tradesman. Now you all know my opinion; and my 
conscience is dear, at all events (she sits down again 
with a vehemence that almost wrecks the chair). 

Act m Major Barbara 151 

Underihaft, My dear: you are the incarnation of 
morality. {She snorts.) Your conscience is clear and 
your duty done when you have called everybody names. 
Come^ Euripides! it is getting late; and we all want to 
get home. Make up your mind. 

CusiNs. Understand this^ you old demon — 

Lady Britomart. Adolphus! 

Undershaft. Let him alone^ Biddy. Proceed^ Eu- 

CusiNS. You have me in a horrible dilemma. I want 

Undershaft. Like all young men^ you greatly exag- 
•^^ gerate the difference between one young woman and 

Barbara. Quite true^ Dolly. 

CusiNs. I also want to avoid being a rascaL 

Undershaft (^with biting contempt). You lust for 
personal righteousness^ for self -approval, for what you 
call a good conscience^ for what Barbara calls salvation^ 
for what I call patronizing people who are not so lucky 
as yourself. 

CusiNs. I do not: all the poet in me recoils from 
being a good man. But there are things in me that I 
must reckon with: pity-r- 

Undershaft. Pity! The scavenger of misery. 

CusiNs. Well, love. 

Undershaft. I know. You love the needy and the 
outcast: you love the oppressed races, the negro, the Ind- 
ian ryot, the Pole, the Irishman. Do you love the 
Japanese? Do you love the Germans? Do you love the 

CusiNS. No. Every true Englishman detests the 
English. We are the wickedest nation on earth; and our 
success is a moral horror. 

Undershaft. That is what comes of your gospel of 
love, is it? 

CusiNs. May I not love even my father-in-law? 

162 Major Barbara Act in 

1^ Undershaft. Who wants your love, man? By what 
right do you take the liberty of offering it to me? I 
will have your due heed and respect, or I will kill you. 
But your love. Damn your impertinence ! 

CusiNs i^gpnning). I may not be able to control my 
affections, Mac. 

Undershaft. You are fencing, Euripides. You are 
^1^ weakening: your grip is slipping. Cornel try your last 
weapon. Pity and love have broken in yoiur hand: for- 
giveness is still left. 

CusiNs. No: forgiveness is a beggar's refuge. I am 
with you there : we must pay our debts. 

Undershaft. Well said. Come! you will suit me. 
^'^ Bemember the words of Plato. 

CusiNs (jtarixng). Plato! You dare quote Plato to 

Undershaft. Plato says, my friend, that society 
•* cannot be saved until either the Professors of Greek 
take to making gunpowder, or else the makers of gun- 
powder become Professors of Greek. 

CusiNS. Oh, tempter, cunning tempter! 

Undershaft. Come! choose, man, choose. 
^ CusiNS. But perhaps Barbara will not marry me if I 
make the wrong choice. 

Barbara. Perhaps not. 

CusiNS (desperately perplexed). You hear! 

Barbara. Father: do you love nobody? 

Undershaft. I love my best friend. 

Lady Britomart. And who is that, pray? 
^^■. Undershaft. My bravest enemy. That is the man 
who keeps me up to the mark. 

CusiNS. You know, the creature is really a sort of 
poet in his way. Suppose he is a great man, after all ! 

Undershaft. Suppose you stop talking and make up 
^ your mind, my young friend. 

CusiNS. But you are driving me against my nature. I 
hate war. 

Act rn Major Barbara 158 

^ XJxDERBHAFT. Hatred is the coward's revenge for be- 
ing intimidated. Dare you make war on war? Here 
are the means: my friend Mr. Lomax is sitting on them. 

LoMAZ (springing up). Oh I say! You dont mean 
that this thing is loaded^ do you? My ownest: come 
off it 

Sarah (sitting placidly on the shell). If I am to be 
blown up^ the more thoroughly it is done the better. 
Dont fuss, Cholly. 

Lomax (to Under shaft, strongly remonstrant). Your 
own daughter, you know. 

Undbrshaft. So I see. (To Cusins.) Well, my 
^ friend, may we expect you here at six tomorrow morn- 

Cusins (firmly). Not on any account. I will see the 
whole establishment blown up with its own dynamite 
before I will get up at five. My hours are healthy, 
rational hours: eleven to five. 

Undershapt. Come when you please: before a week 
"^you will come at six and stay imtil I turn you out for 
the sake of your health. (Calling.) Bilton! (He turns 
to Lady Britomart, who rises.) My dear: let us leave 
these two young people to themselves for a moment. 
(Bilton comes from the shed.) I am going to take you 
through the gun cotton shed. 

Bilton (barring the way). You cant take anything 
explosive in here, sir. 

Lady Britomart. What do you mean? Are you 
alluding to me? 

Bilton (unmoved). No, maam. Mr. Undershaft has 
the other gentleman's matches in his pocket. 

Lady Britomart (abruptly). Oh! I beg your par- 
don. (She goes into the shed.) 

Undershaft. Quite right, Bilton, quite right: here 
^^ou are. (He gives Bilton the box of matches.) Come, 
Stephen. Come> Charles. Bring Sarah. {He passes 
into the, sjkfii»\ 

154 Major Barbara Act in 

Biltan opens the box and deliberately drops the 
matches into the fire-bucket. 

LoMAz. Oh I say! (BUton stolidly hands him the 
empty box.) Infernal nonsense! Pure scientific igno- 
rance! (He goes in.) 

Sarah. Am I all rights Bilton? 

BiLTON. Youll have to put on list slippers^ miss: 
thats alL Weve got em inside. (She goes in.) 

Snnmmaas^very seriously to Cusins). DoUy^ old fel- 
low^ think. Think before you decide. Do you feel that 
you are a sufficiently practical man? It is a huge under- 
taking, an enormous responsibility. All this mass of 
business will be Greek to you. 

CusiNS. Oh^ I thi^k it will be much less difficult than 

Stephen. Well, I just want to say this before I leave 
you to yourselves. Dont let anything I have said about 
right and wrong prejudice you against this great chance 
in life, I have satisfied myself that the business is one 
of the highest character and a credit to our country. 
(Emotionally.) I am very proud of my father. I — 
(Unable to proceed, he presses Cusins* hand and goes 
hastily into the shed, followed by Bilton.) 

Barbara and Cusins, left alone together, look at one 
another silently. 

Cusins. Barbara: I am going to accept this offer. 

Barbara. I thought you would. 

Cusins. You understand, dont you, that I had to 
decide without consulting you. If I had thrown the 
burden of the choice on you, you would sooner or later 
have despised me for it. 

Barbara. Yes: I did not want you to sell your soul 
for me any more than for this inheritance. 

Cusins. It is not the sale of my soul that troubles 
me: I have sold it too often to care about that. I have 
sold it for a professorship. I have sold it for an income. 
I have sold it to escape being imprisoned for refusing 


AcjT m Major Barbara T 155 

to pay taxes for hangmen's ropes and unjust wars and 
things that I abhor. What is all human conduct but 
the daily and hourly sale of our souls for trifles? What 
I am now selling it for is neither money nor position 
nor comfort^ but for reality and for power. 

Barbara. You know that you will have no power^ 
and that he has none. 

CusiNS. I know. It is not for myself alone. I want 
to make power for the world. 

Barbara. I want to make power for the world too; 
but it must be spiritual power. 

CusiNs. I think all power is spiritual: these cannons 
will not go off by themselves. I have tried to make 
spiritual power by teaching Greek. But' the world can 
never be really touched by a dead language and a dead 
civilization. The people must have power; and the 
people cannot have Greek. Now the power that is made 
here can be wielded by all men. 

Barbara. Power to bum women's houses down and 
kill their sons and tear their husbands to pieces. 

CusiNs. You cannot have power for good without hav- , 
ing power for evil too. Even mother's milk nourishes 
murderers as well as heroes. This power which only 
tears men's bodies to pieces has never been so horribly 
abused as the intellectual power^ the imaginative power^ 
the poetic, religious power than can enslave men's souls. ^/^ 
As a teacher of Greek I gave the intellectual man weap- 
ons against the common man. I now want to give the 
common man weapons against the intellectual man. I 
love the common people. I want to arm them against 
the lawyer, the doctor, the priest, the literary man, the 
professor, the artist, and the politician, who, once in 
authority, are the most dangerous, disastrous, and tyran- 
nical of all the fools, rascals, and impostors. I want a 
democratic power strong enough to force the intellectual 
oligarchy to use its genius for the general good or else 


150 Major Barbara AcrHl 

Barbara. Is there no higher power than that (point- 
ing to the shell) ? 

CuBiNB. Yes: but that power can destroy the higher 
powers just as a tiger can destroy a man: therefore man 
must master that power first. I admitted this when the 
Turks and Greeks were last at war. My best pupil went 
out to fight for Hellas. My parting gift to him was 
not a copy of Plato's Republic, but a revolver and a 
hundred Undershaft cartridges. The blood of every 
Turk he shot — ^if he shot any — ^is on my head as well as 
on Undershaft's. That act committed me to this place 
for ever. Your father's challenge has beaten me. Dare 
I make war on war ? I dare. I must. I will. And now, 
is it all over between us.^ 

Barbara (touched by his evident dread of her an- 
swer). Silly baby Dolly! How could it be? 

CusiKS (overjoyed). Then you — ^you — ^you — Oh for 
my drum! (He flourishes imaginary drumsticks,) 

Barbara (angered by his levity). Take care, Dolly, 
take care. Oh, if only I could get away from you and 
from father and from it all! if I could have the wings 
of a dove and fly away to heaven! 

CusiNs. And leave me! 

Barbara. Yes, you, and all the other naughty mis- 
chievous children of men. But I cant. I was happy 
in the Salvation Army for a moment. I escaped from 
the world into a paradise of enthusiasm and prayer and 
soul saving; but the moment our money ran fihort, it all 
came back to Bodger: it was he who saved our people: 
he, and the Prince of Darkness, my papa. Undershaft 
and Bodger: their hands stretch everywhere: when we 
feed a starving fellow creature, it is with their bread, 
because there is no other bread; when we tend the sick, 
it is in the hospitals they endow; if we turn from the 
churches they build, we must kneel on the stones of 
the streets they pave. As long as that lasts, there 
is np getting away from them. TunuDjp our backs 


Act in Major Barbara 157 

on Bodger and Undershaft is turning our backs on 

CuBiNs. I thought you were determined to turn your 
back on the wicked side of life. 

Barbara. There is no wicked side: life is all one. 
And I never wanted to shirk my share in whatever evil 
must be endured^ whether it be sin or suffering. I wish 
I could cure you of middle-class ideas^ Dolly. 

CusiNs {gasping). Middle cl — ! A snub! A social 
snub to m e ! from the daughter of a foundling ! 

Barbara. That is why I have no class^ Dolly: I come 
straight out of the heart of the whole people. If I were 
middle-class I should turn my back on my father's busi- 
ness; and we should both live in an artistic drawing- 
room^ with you reading the reviews in one comer, and 
I in the other at the piano, playing Schumann: both very 
superior persons, and neither of us a bit of use. Sooner 
than that, I would sweep out the guncotton shed, or be 
one of Bodger's barmaids. Do you know what would 
have happened if you had refused papa's offer? 

CusiNs. I wonder! . 

Barbara. I should have given you up and married 
the man who accepted it. After all, my dear old mother 
has more sense than any of you. I felt like her when I ! 
saw this place — felt that I must have it — ^that never, ^ 
never, never could I let it go; only she thought it was 
the houses and the kitchen ranges and the linen and 
china, when it was really all the human souls to be 
saved: not weak souls in starved bodies, crying with 
gratitude for a scrap of bread and treacle, but fullf ed, 
quarrelsome, snobbish, uppish creatures, all standing on 
their little rights and dignities, and thinking that my 
father ought to be greatly obliged to them for making 
so much money for him — and so he ought. That is 
where salvation is really wanted. My father shall never 
throw it in my teeth again that my converts were bribed 
with bread. {^She is transfigured,) I have got rid of 



158 Major Barbara Act m 

the bribe of bread. I have got rid of the bribe of 
heaven. Let God's work be done for its own sake: the 
work he had to create us to do because it cannot be done 
except by living men and women. When I die^ let him 
be in my debt, not I in his; and let me forgive him as 
becomes a woman of my. rank. 

CusiNS. Then the way of life lies through the factory 
of death? 

Barbara. Yes^ through the raising of hell to heaven 
and of man to God^ through the unveiling of an eternal 
light in the Valley of The Shadow. {Seising him with 
both hands,) Oh, did you think my courage would never 
come back? did you believe that I W€t8 a deserter? that 
1, who have stood in the streets^ and taken my people 
to my hearty and talked of the holiest and greatest things 
with them^ could ever turn back and chatter foolishly 
to fashionable people about nothing in a drawingroom? 
Never, never, never, never: Major Barbara will die* with 
the colors. Oh! and I have my dear little Dolly boy 
still; and he has found me my place and my work. 
Glory Hallelujah! (She kisses him.) 

CusiKs. My dearest: consider my delicate health. I 
cannot stand as much happiness as you can. 

Barbara. Yes : it is not easy work being in love with 
me, is it? But it's good for you. (She runs to the shed, 
and calls, childlike) Mamma! Mamma! {Bilton comes 
out of the shed, foUoned by Undershaft.) I want 

Undershaft. She is taking off her list slippers, 
dear. (He passes on to Cusins.) Well? What does 
she say? 

Cusins. She has gone right up into the skies. 

Lady Britomart (coming from the shed and stopping 
on the steps, obstructing Sarah, who follows with Lo- 
max. Barbara clutches like a baby at her mother's skirt.) 
Barbara: when will you learn to be independent and to 
act and think for yourself? I know as well as possible 

Act m Major Barbara 159 

what that cry of " Mamxna^ Mamma^'' means. Always 
miming to me! 

Sarah (touching Lady Britomart's ribs with her fiti" 
ger tips and imitating a bicycle horn). Pip ! pip ! 

Lady Britomart (highly indignant). How dare you 
say Pip ! pip ! to me, Sarah ? You are both very naughty 
children. What do you want, Barbara? 

Barbara. I want a house in the village to live in 
with Dolly. (Dragging at the skirt.) Come and tell 
me which one to take. 

Undershaft (to Cusins). Six o'clock tomorrow 
morning, my young friend. 


MAY 1 L